Bruins' Beleskey on this season's struggles: 'It's not who I am'

Bruins' Beleskey on this season's struggles: 'It's not who I am'

The message would seem to be pretty clear to Matt Beleskey at this point: Show up to camp in the best shape of your career after a very disappointing season.

There was a knee injury in the middle of the season that didn’t help, but the 28-year-old left winger all in all had a down year for the Bruins where he managed just three goals and eight points and was a minus-10 in 49 games. The hard-nosed winger was scuffling even before he was hurt and that further cemented a lost season for a player Boston counts on to be a physical, gritty difference-maker.

Beleskey was in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch down the stretch and managed to play just three of the six playoff games against the Ottawa Senators. That’s the same Stanley Cup playoff-setting where Beleskey had built a reputation as a big-game player in the past for the Anaheim Ducks but wasn’t able to do much for the Black and Gold this time around.

An up-front guy like Beleskey wasn’t going to avoid the subject and instead said it’s on him to be a better version of himself next season if he wants to remain a member of the Bruins.  

“[This season] is not who I am. That’s not what I signed to do here. You know, this is going to be a big summer for me with sticking around here,” Beleskey said at Bruins break-up day last week. “I’m going to train here with all of the facilities and everything available to me. I think this will be a great summer here in Boston, and I’m looking forward to next season.

“We were fighting for a playoff spot and we needed to win games, so the coaching staff and team made the decisions that they thought were best, and I just came here to work hard and try to do what I do when I have my opportunity. I’ve said before, I made a commitment to this city, they made a commitment to me, and I owe a much better year than this year. I can guarantee it won’t happen again.”

Clearly, it was all a disappointing development in his second year in Boston after signing a five-year, $19 million contract. Beleskey alluded to it in his comments and the B’s coaching staff also pointed toward his conditioning and health as an area targeted for improvement headed into next season.

Too often Beleskey couldn’t get to his spot in time to execute the big hit and simply didn’t have the legs to finish plays offensively when he’d been able to in a solid, if unspectacular, first season in Boston.

“With Matty, there’s a challenge there, because he’s an accomplished player in terms of he’s scored goals in this league and we’ve made a commitment to him as a player. What we’re looking for from Matt is getting back to where he was in terms of a good, solid, physical guy that can chip in offensively. With his injury, he was always playing catch-up, and we’ve got to get him going from Day 1. So that’s the conversation [at the exit interview],” said Bruce Cassidy. “I’ll be perfectly honest, we sat down [and said] we need you to be at this level, conditioning-wise, health-wise, right out of the gate.

I think it will benefit him because when he’s able to get there, he’s a very effective player. I think obviously certain things limited him this year, so we’ve got to get him to that particular point. I think the rest will take care of itself going forward, and hopefully, we get positive results. That’s what we’re all after. We want the player to play well, play to the best of his ability and that’s the challenge in front of us.”

Trade whispers surrounded Beleskey at the trade deadline amid the disappointing campaign and there’s always the possibility Boston could leave his weighty contract exposed in the NHL expansion draft. But the sense at this address is that Beleskey, a prototypical Bruins player when he’s at his best, will get another chance in Boston next season and that he’ll respond to the challenge as a proud, competitive guy.

A return to form for Beleskey could also go a long way toward giving the B’s third line the facelift it desperately needed this season due to struggles, injuries and players that probably won’t be coming back next season. 


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.