Bruins

Bruins banking on Bourque with 2-year deal

773476.jpg

Bruins banking on Bourque with 2-year deal

It was hoped that the Bruins would come to an agreement with Chris Bourque after dealing with the Washington Capitals for him last week, and that hope turned into reality when the Bruins announced a two-year deal with the minor league forward.

The 26-year-old Bourque nearly reached 100 points in an outstanding AHL season with the Hershey Bears last year, and will have two years to follow the footsteps of his Hall of Fame dad, Ray, and became a cog for the Bruins. The deal includes a two-way contract for the 2012-13 season that will pay Bourque 550,000 if he makes the Bruins out of training camp, and 200,000 if he spends the season with the Providence Bruins.

Then the contract becomes a one-way deal in 2013-14 and will pay him 550,00 with the expectation hell be playing in Boston.

Given his offensive abilities demonstrated in the minor leagues and his ability to play up-and-down the lineup, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said theres a legitimate chance that Bourque could make the Bs next season.

I told Chris that I think he has a good chance of making our team. I told him that hes just not there to go to Providence, said Chiarelli. If he goes to Providence then thats great, but giving him a one-way deal in the second year speaks to how we feel about Chris. Hes got a couple of areas to work on and I told him that.

Hes very keen and Im happy to have him in the organization. Obviously his dad was huge for our organization, but Chris has his real positive traits and parts of his game that well all be happy to see in a Bruins uniform.

As with many players attempting to make the jump from established AHL player to a card-carrying member of the NHL, versatility will be one of the keys for Bourque.

He does have the ability to shoot and find seams, but he also has a grit element to his game where he can play lower down in the lineup if he has to, said Chiarelli. I told him among other things that he needs another quarter-step to maintain it at this level, and hes a young guy so I think he will.

The Bruins are banking on the contract theyve handed to a very familiar-looking last name for the next two years.

Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

bruins-tuukka-rask-032316.jpg

Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

BRIGHTON -- Tuukka Rask is quickly making his way through the concussion protocol and may return to action this weekend.

The Bruins netminder skated with the other injured players ahead of Monday’s main team practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and is on track to rejoin the team at regular practice on Tuesday barring any setbacks in his concussion recovery. That would leave Rask with just a couple of games missed after getting trucked by Anders Bjork at practice last week, and it would give the Bruins back their No. 1 goaltender after Anton Khudobin let in five goals vs. the Sabres on Thursday night.

“He’s in the protocol and progressing well,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’ll probably join us [on Tuesday] for the next step if there are no ill effects from today. That’s a positive. If there are no setbacks, I think Saturday is a more realistic [timetable for a return].”

The hope would be that Rask could start elevating his game when he does return, and play better than the goalie that’s posted the 1-3-0 record, 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage thus far this season. But first things first with the recovery to his first career concussion as an NHL goalie, and the set of hurdles that must be passed before Rask is again allowed to jump back into game action as early as this weekend.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Bruins practice with Rask, David Krejci and Noel Acciari all skating prior to practice, Patrice Bergeron staying off ice with a maintenance day and Kevan Miller skating in main practice with a maroon, no-contact jersey:

Marchand-Schaller-Bjork
DeBrusk-Backes-Pastrnak
Agostino-Nash-White
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma

Khudobin

Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

bruins_tim_schaller_030817.jpg

Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

BRIGHTON -- Injuries, and some really tough losses, have put a bit of a damper on the start to the Bruins season. But there've also been a couple of unquestioned bright spots.

And one of them is Tim Schaller, who's been a strong, consistent performer in the first couple of weeks of the season. The New Hampshire native -- and lifelong Bruins fan -- was penciled in as a fourth-line winger throughout most of training camp, but he’s played everywhere as injuries have ravaged the B's roster.

The high point was probably centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak (and notching an assist) in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Sabres, and filling in for a late-scratched David Krejci with a very different set of skills. Certainly he’s been a standout for the Bruins with his physicality, including stepping up and fighting man mountain Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson's nasty boarding hit on Frank Vatrano last week, and he’s also kicked in a couple of goals and three points in seven games thus far this season.

“It’s a reactionary thing, and that’s just in a person,” said Bruce Cassidy of fighting Gudbranson. “It’s a character thing because you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Good for Timmy. That earns a lot of street cred not only in your own locker room, but the other teams notice it. too.

"We know with the goals that he can obviously chip in [offensively] and he’s doing a great job for what we’re asking him to do. He’s probably going to take ownership if he’s out there with some young guys on a line, and if he can be a leader and get that line playing the right way every night that is very valuable to us.”

Schaller’s game to this point is a continuation of what he showed in his first season with the Bruins last year, when the 26-year-old posted 7 goals and 14 points in 59 games while becoming a staple in Boston’s bottom-6 group. He’s once again shown pretty good straight-ahead speed for a big man, and a willingness to take his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame straight to the net.

“I’ve been moving well and I’ve got the two goals, so personally I’m happy [with my game],” said Schaller. “Hopefully others can feed off what I’m trying to do out there, and we get a more well-balanced game [as a team]. I had a good season last year, and what was really good was that I knew that I had more to give. That’s what I’m trying to do this season.

“I can obviously produce more. I had a good start to last season and then I kind of fell off a little bit. So hopefully I can be a little more consistent for this entire year.”

That would be a very good thing for a Bruins team that can use him in a bottom-6 energy role when its roster is healthy, and will fully utilize his versatility in times of injuries and adversity.