Bruins

Bruins players staying optimstic amid game cancellations

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Bruins players staying optimstic amid game cancellations

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. While its difficult to remain optimistic with regular season games cancelled and Bruins players skating elsewhere all over the planet on Thursdays cancelled NHL opening night, the Bs players left behind are doing their best.

Greg Campbell, Johnny Boychuk, Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille are among a small group of Bs players still skating together in Boston and waiting for the NHL lockout to finally end.

Well, most guys are skating anyway.

Me and Campbell are built like Greek gods, so we dont have to worry about playing anywhere during the lockout, said Marchand with a laugh. You do almost feel lost right now, though. Youre used to having a schedule and a routine when hockey season comes, and its been that way for me since I was 15 years old.

Its a little weird, but were trying to stay in the routine as much as possible, Marchand said.

None of the four players have plans to skate in Europe at this point in time and they still hope for the best despite the gaping chasm that remains between the NHL and NHLPA for a new collective bargaining agreement. Paille is the NHLPA player rep for the Bruins and hes stayed abreast on all the labor discussions, and stresses that its about more than the money for the players.

Theres roughly a billion dollar gap between each side after union and league officials
tabled talks on Thursday, but the Bruins indicated their fight is about whats fair, whats
important for player rights and whats best for both the current and next generation of NHL players.

We dont want to be in this situation. Obviously we would have rather been in Philly starting the NHL season, said Paille. Its disappointing because we want to play. We have to see things through the next few weeks and then go from there. Theres a much bigger picture than just the money. I know thats a big part of it, but we have a lot more to lose than that.

The fact that games have been cancelled is disappointing on both sides," said Paille. "You try to get the job done and we havent gotten it done. Im optimistic that there will be a season, but
at this point in time its impossible to say when that will happen. Its anybodys guess. Hopefully we get something done sooner rather than later.

Campbell is equally optimistic there will eventually be a hockey season whether it starts in November or December, but had a difficult time zeroing in on what it will take for a deal to finally get done.

Its a combination of emotions. Its uncharted waters for me like it is for most other guys, said Campbell. You can think about it all you want, but it doesnt prepare you for once the season starts getting cancelled. Every year we show up to camp and get ready for the season, so the biggest challenge for players is to stay positive, stay focused and staying prepared as a professional whether the season starts soon or not-so-soon.

Theres no alternative rather than to stay optimistic. Weve put all of our trust as players
into NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and Steve Fehr. Thats what theyre good at: making deals and making fair deals. They want to make a deal that benefits the players as well as the league and the fans. Its hard to read into whats written about the negotiations on a daily basis, so you just stay as informed as you can through the NHLPA contacts.

Lockout solutions and pathways to a middle ground are for union executives and league czars that are in the middle of their busy season rather than the players. You can bet on which one is more exciting to the disappointed, frustrated NHL fans now missing out on games, but the Bruins are doing their best to retain happy thoughts as regular season games begin getting deleted like worthless pieces of spam email.

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

BOSTON – The Bruins returned Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to good health and their lineup on Thursday night, but they also saw a few more players get banged up in their win over the Vancouver Canucks. 

David Krejci exited Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the Canucks with an upper body injury after scoring a power play goal, and Adam McQuaid also had to leave the game after dropping to one knee to block a shot with his right leg. McQuaid was also already banged up after taking a shot off his knee in last weekend’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, so taking another shot off the leg certainly wasn’t a helpful development. 

“He blocked a shot, so he’ll get evaluated tonight or tomorrow. I don’t know how serious – he blocks a lot of shots. This one stung him obviously so we’ll see how it turns out. Adam [McQuaid] has been doing that for years around here. He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room. Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He actually manages the puck very well. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not a guy that just throws it away either. He makes good decisions with it, and every team needs an Adam McQuaid. We’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

With Krejci it appeared that he suffered some back spasms after getting cross-checked, and that’s what ended up forcing him out of the win. Cassidy doesn’t foresee it being a long-term thing with Krejci, who finished with a goal and two points in 8:21 of ice time centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.  

“He has an upper body; he had to leave. He wasn’t feeling too terrific today, and then he got, I think there was a cross-check there. He tried it, but couldn’t continue [playing]. I think he had some spasms, but I don’t think there’s anything long-term there at all.”

It remains to be seen if either McQuaid or Krejci will miss any time with the bumps and bruised suffered on Thursday, but it goes without saying that the Bruins hope they can stay in a lineup that’s beginning to take shape with the full group. 

Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

BOSTON – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the presence of Patrice Bergeron is a major game-changer for the Boston Bruins. 

Bergeron finally felt good enough to return to the B’s lineup after missing the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, and the impact was immediate and unmistakable with a goal and four points in a 6-3 win for the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. It was also a far-reaching impact with the Bruins center pumping life back in the B’s power play with a return to his bumper position, returning a top penalty killer to the Bruins rotation, bringing normalcy back to the forward group by slotting fellow forwards back into their rightful spots and simply giving the B’s their best all-around player back. 

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Clearly it was a joyous moment for Bergeron to get back on the ice and play after getting a couple of good days in on the practice ice leading up to Thursday night. 

“It’s hard no matter what it is. You know, when you’re missing games, when you’re missing time, it’s… you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team. It’s good to be back,” said Bergeron. “You don’t know what to expect obviously [after a long layoff]. You’re trying to hope for the best. I don’t want to say I was surprised [at his high level of play] because you want to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork finally skated together for the first time after building chemistry all throughout training camp, and they finished with four goals, 10 points, a plus-6 rating and 13 of Boston’s 35 shots on net for the game. It was the way that the Bruins roster was drawn up headed into the season before they had a five-game detour due to the injuries, and the hope is that’s the way it will continue to look for the Black and Gold moving forward. 

“I mean it’s pretty evident, you know, the way [Bergeron] played out there. He just, it’s incredible the way he came back and dominated the game after being out for that long, you know?” said Brad Marchand, who finally has his longtime partner-in-crime back. “He’s just such a big part of the group. He’s able to calm things down in the room, on the bench, and he leads by example. He just does everything that a top guy does.”

Perhaps most striking of all was the emotion and organization that the Bruins played with having Bergeron and David Backes back in the lineup. The breakouts, reloading counter-attacks and defensive zone coverage all had more noticeable structure, and the Bruins were able to get the wave after wave attack from their forward groups that spurred on goals both during 5-on-5 play and when special teams were involved. 

Some of that is getting two highly talented players like Bergeron and Backes back from injury, and some of it is getting an important, tone-setting leader like No. 37 back for everything he does off the ice as well. 

Bergeron set up the important answering goal in the first period by firing a puck that created a rebound for Bjork to clean up, he did the same for David Krejci’s power play to close out the first period scoring, he created the turnover that led to Marchand’s goal in the second period and then he sniped home his own goal from the bumper spot to finally clinch things in the third period. It was clear that Bergeron is still navigating through discomfort and some level of injury while playing at this point, but his hockey IQ and his gritty toughness are allowing him to still be a highly effective player. 

“I think it was self-evident out there that the play on the ice, first of all, built a matchup against whoever we really want. The Power play obviously [was a] big impact there. I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those intangibles, leadership, first shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and [he’s] kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. 

“[He’s talking about] finishing your routes on the fore-check and reloading all the way to our zone.

[It’s the] stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. When you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more. To have that back in the room and along with David Backes, those are guys that are just vocal players that bring a lot in that aspect. It’s generally, a quiet group. That doesn’t mean you can’t be effective and win as a quiet group, but it just helps sometimes to have a little bit of that energy.”

While it was a clearly a feel-good story to see Bergeron back in his proper environs on the ice, it was also just as apparent there’s still some lower body discomfort with the Bruins center. He looked like he was in pain or laboring at times out on the ice, and admitted after the game that the lower body injury might be something he’ll need to manage for the time being. That would tend to mean that once again this isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon, and Bergeron will again need to grind his way through the pain. 

“That’s the million dollar question, right? I don’t know what to say to that. I guess yeah, I mean I’m feeling good,” said Bergeron. “But there’s… we might manage a little bit for quite a while. But I’m feeling good and tonight was no issue.”

Clearly Bergeron and the Bruins will gladly take it if he can be a difference-maker like he was on Thursday night with a four points, eight shot attempts and plenty of hard-working shifts in his 20:58 of ice time for the game. They’ll just need to keep their fingers crossed that No. 37 can keep suiting up and playing at a high level, and that the 32-year-old can avoid any further problems after already sitting out the first five games of the regular season.