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


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. 

B's not anticipating any Game 6 availability issues with Bergeron

B's not anticipating any Game 6 availability issues with Bergeron

BOSTON – It looks like Patrice Bergeron made it through his Game 5 return without any pressing issues or lingering problems that should limit his availability for the last couple of potential games in the best-of-seven series with the Maple Leafs.

Bergeron topped 20 minutes of ice time in the 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs in Saturday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden, and had six shots on net, 10 shot attempts, three hits and won 16-of-25 face-offs while being held without any points. There were times where No. 37 looked like he was playing through a little bit of pain, but the numbers certainly don’t back that up as he was still very strong even if he was less than 100 percent. 

“I won’t project past Game 6. He made it through [the Game 5 loss] healthy and he finished the game,” said Bruce Cassidy on Saturday night following Game 5. “You always want to see how they are in the morning. I don’t anticipate there will be any issues going into Game 6. Of course, that could change, but that’s the way it is right now.”

Bruce Cassidy indicated after Saturday night’s loss that Bergeron, who has five assists and a plus-3 rating in four games vs. the Leafs, finished the game without issue, and further said at Sunday’s chat with the media that he wasn’t expecting health issues would cause any lineup changes for Monday night’s very important Game 6 in Toronto. Bergeron was also spotted at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday afternoon and certainly looked no worse for the wear, so the B’s aren’t bracing for any last minute scratches in a heavy duty playoff game on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre. 

“We’ll reassess on [Monday] morning when guys go back on the ice health-wise,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Sometimes they feel good today and then they get on the ice…I don’t anticipate much going on health-wise, but we went up to Toronto [earlier this week] and one game Bergeron didn’t play and then Grzelcyk in another one. So [a change in the lineup] could happen.” 

That would indicate Bergeron came through Saturday night’s heavy workload without any further issues, and that perhaps he’s over the hump with whatever upper-body injury caused him to miss a game in the middle of the series. That’s a great sign with the Black and Gold in serious need of all hands on deck for another chance to eliminate the Maple Leafs on Monday night in Toronto.


Morning Skate: Kadri's presence makes difference for Leafs in Game 5

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Kadri's presence makes difference for Leafs in Game 5

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while spring appears to finally be arriving in Boston.


*Some solid war stories from the NHL penalty box compiled by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt at Sports Illustrated.


*Keeping an eye on the Tampa Bay Lightning, and rookie D-man Mikhail Sergachev is enjoying a strong playoff series for the Bolts as they advanced past the New Jersey Devils this weekend.


*Nazem Kadri definitely helped make a difference for the Maple Leafs in Game 5 at the Garden, and Toronto is going to need more of that if they’re going to force a Game 7.


*The Philadelphia Flyers are finally ratcheting up some drama with the Penguins in their first-round series.


*Good memories from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Goucher out in Vegas as he talks about Gil Santos at the time of the New England sports legend’s passing this week.


*For something completely different: When you’re writing think pieces about Adam Sandler, it may be time to reevaluate things.