Forsbacka Karlsson makes quiet NHL debut vs. Capitals


Forsbacka Karlsson makes quiet NHL debut vs. Capitals

BOSTON -- The Bruins wanted to get a look at 20-year-old rookie Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in an NHL game after signing him following his sophomore season at Boston University, and they did just that in Saturday's regular-season finale.

The verdict was mixed for JFK in the 3-1 loss to the Capitals. Boston never held a lead, and Forsbacka Karlsson looked like the inexperienced player he very much is. Consequently, he only received 8:25 of ice time and looked a bit overwhelmed with just one blocked shot and a 1-for-2 performance in the faceoff circle on his stat sheet.

No matter how you slice it, Forsbacka Karlsson will need more practice time, and coaching, to become the player he wants to be. But everybody needs a first game played in the NHL, and Forsbacka Karlsson was the wide-eyed rookie on Saturday.

"It's not ideal no matter when, [but it's more difficult for a rookie making his NHL debut at] this time of year in meaningful games," said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "If you're eliminated . . .  [then maybe] there are teaching moments. I mean, there are teaching moments no matter what, but that's kind of where we're at . . .

"Only he can answer the comparables with college hockey versus the NHL, and how he felt," said Cassidy. "Really, the only thing we talked to him about was, ‘Listen, you're playing against men. They're going to be hard on pucks, hard around the pucks, and so that will be the biggest difference maker for you.'

"I think he probably found that out today because, you know, he was positionally solid and he didn't hurt us. He's just going to be harder around the battles and every young player learns that and the quicker you can adapt to that, probably the better, the easier, the transition [to the NHL] is going to be for you."

It was certainly a big step up from the NCAA level, where JFK posted 14 goals and 33 points in 39 games for the Terriers this season, and the former second-round pick admitted as much.

"It's a little faster out there, but it's nice to get out there and get the first game out of the way," said Forsbacka Karlsson. "I felt better and better as the game went on. Obviously, it's a little bit of an adjustment, but, like I said, you know, once you warm up a little bit it feels better.

"They're bigger, they're stronger, and they make better decisions, go faster. You have less time with the puck, so you know, it's everything like that."

It's what you'd expect to hear from a rookie making his NHL debut.


Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

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Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

The Bruins have managed to take three of a possible six points since Zdeno Chara went down in the third period of last week's comeback win over the Carolina Hurricanes, and they've done it completely without their top pairing since Charlie McAvoy has also been out all this time.

There are a number of factors behind the ability to withstand the injuries, of course, and the entire defense corps was stellar at both ends in the shutout win over Tampa Bay last weekend.


But it's Torey Krug who's really stepped up his game. He had three assists and 15 shots on net in those three games, and was immense in the win over the Lightning.

Krug has surpassed the 50-point plateau for the second straight season, a major accomplishment for a defenseman who prides himself on his puck-moving and power-play work.

"You know, he has [stepped up]," coach Bruce Cassidy said of Krug, adding: "Torey is always going to get his numbers, but he's really added to it 5-on-5 . . . [It] was comforting to see that [without Chara and McAvoy] we shut out one of the best teams [in the NHL], at home, that was rested. You've got to take something out of that. It was one of 82 [games], but that was a real positive for our guys."

For Krug, the challenge of stepping up and being a leader in the team's time of need is the kind of thing he takes pride in responding to with an elevated level of play.

"I'm in the business of winning hockey games and helping my team win," said Krug. "It falls on my shoulders to produce some offense from the back end. And [when] we're missing a couple of guys from the back end that do that push the pace, then you've got to step up and make some plays. When you play with a lot of great players then you'll get your points, and you just need to worry about the defensive zone first.

"We're confident in everybody in this room. A lot of people think that the guys on our back end can't get the job done, so for us to step up [is a good thing]."


The biggest sign of Krug's increased responsibility? He topped 26 minutes of ice time in two of the three games since Chara was injured. Only once before, when he was on the ice for 27-plus minutes against the Rangers in early November, has he played more than that.

The loss of Chara and McAvoy has forced Krug to go above and beyond his normal range of duties and he's stepped up and embraced it. That's what good players on good teams do, and it's something Krug has consistently done in the big moments since arriving in Boston five years ago.


Erik Karlsson and wife Melinda mourn death of their son

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Erik Karlsson and wife Melinda mourn death of their son

The Ottawa Senators announced Tuesday that team captain Erik Karlsson and his wife Melinda lost their son one month before his due date.


"The collective thoughts and prayers of the Ottawa Senators organization, the city of Ottawa and entire hockey community rest with Erik and Melinda Karlsson following the loss of their son.

We ask that you respect the family's wishes for privacy during the grieving process."

The couple announced via Instagram in November that they were expecting, and the CBC reports the baby was due in April.

Sens head coach Guy Boucher spoke about the tragedy after Ottawa's game vs the Panthers on Tuesday (1:36 mark in video below).

Karlsson, a rumored Bruins target before the trade deadline, received heartfelt condolences from the hockey world on Twitter:

Our thoughts too go out to Erik and Melinda during this incredibly difficult time.