Bruins

BruinsLightning: 5 thoughts from the first

191545.jpg

BruinsLightning: 5 thoughts from the first

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Lightning wrapped in a scoreless tie during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a Stanley Cup Finals date on the line at TD Garden.1)Adam McQuaid wins the award for the Most Nervous Looking Game in Conference Final Game Seven. He had issues keeping his skates early in the period and nearly coughed up a puck with Lightning players close to the Boston net. Luckily Tim Thomas was able to support his defenseman. McQuaid also whiffed on a puck later in the period and looked a little shaky in his 4:52 of ice time.2)Nathan Horton is hurt. It appeared that he collided with Blair Jones as he attempted to hold onto a puck at the blue line in the offensive zone, and then stumbled again as he tried to get on his skates and get toward the bench. He moved very gingerly, didnt return to the ice and left the bench for the dressing room with about seven minutes to go in the period. Michael Ryder moved up in his place during most of the missed shifts.3)Claude Julien mixing things up early and substituting Rich Peverley for Mark Recchi on the Brad MarchandPatrice Bergeron line when it was pretty clear Recchi didnt have his legs. Recchi and Peverley have alternated shifts with that line since then, but its looking more and more like there isnt much left in the 43-year-olds tank after a long and glorious run.4)No penalties in the first 20 minutes of the game despite a physical tone and plenty of intense action on both ends. It looks like the refs have put the whistles away and theyre letting the boys play and that is to the Bruins distinct advantage.5)Fifteen shots on net in the first period for the Bruins. Two things about that: Dwayne Roloson has looked sharp making those 15 saves, and thats more shots than the combined output of the second and third period of Game 6. Rolosons closed pad stop on a Milan Lucic breakaway midway through the first period off a sweet Peverley feathered pass has been the play of the game thus far. Andrew Ference leading the way with three shots on net.Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

bruins_mat_grzelcyk_121516.jpg

Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

BRIGHTON, Mass – It had to be a bitter pill for Matt Grzelcyk to be sent back down to the AHL after playing solidly for the Bruins earlier this season. 

The 23-year-old Charlestown native was excellent playing in place of Torey Krug in Boston’s opening night win over the Nashville Predators, but his stay didn’t last very long. The former Boston University standout was back in the minor leagues shortly afterward once Krug returned from his fractured jaw a little earlier than expected. Now Krug is again banged up again with an upper body injury, and Grzelcyk has been called up to fill in for Krug during Wednesday night’s pre-Thanksgiving road game in New Jersey against the Devils.

Once again it will be about a focus on puck-moving and power play for Grzelcyk, who is the closest thing that the Bruins have to the smaller, skilled Krug in their minor league system. 

“I was happy with how things went before I got sent to Providence, so I’m just going to try to do the things that I was doing well before I got sent down. Mentally knowing that I can play at the NHL level [is huge], and just going through the experience was positive,” said Grzelcyk. “Mentally my first year I think I was a little too nervous and tentatively with my play, and that’s not me at all when I’m at my best. I’m confident with the puck, and confident with my speed and ability. It was just about going out and doing it on the ice.”

Grzelcyk was okay down in Providence with four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games, but he’s been patiently waiting for another NHL call since logging 12:11 of solid puck-moving ice time in his lone appearance for Boston this season. Now he’ll get it in a likely pairing with Kevan Miller against the New Jersey Devils

“He’s a puck-mover. He’s quick. He can get up the ice and support the rush, and he’s a good distributor,” said Cassidy of Grzelcyk. “There are a lot of natural similarities to Torey [Krug] because of their physical makeup, but they are similar [players] with Torey at this level being a bit more significant offensive player. Whether it’s in [Grzelcyk] or not time will tell, but we believe it is and we just need to get it out of him.”

Grzelcyk will get a chance to show that offensive wrinkle and more when he suits up against the New Jersey Devils for his second game of the season after paying his dues with the P-Bruins overt the last month. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

usatsi_10402885.jpg

Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

BRIGHTON -- Coming off a pair of back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are still undecided about what they’re going to do between the pipes Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

On the one hand, the Bruins are very tempted to ride the hot goaltending hand with Khudobin a strong 5-0-2 record on the season and a .935 save percentage that currently leads all goaltenders across the league. There’s a school of thought that the B’s should simply keep plugging Khudobin into the lineup until he actually loses a game, and begins to cool down a little bit between the pipes after stopping 63-of-65 shots against LA and San Jose.

At the same time it will be over a week since Tuukka Rask has played in a game if the Bruins go with Khudobin on Wednesday night against the Devils, and Bruce Cassidy was clear to stress that Rask is still their No. 1 guy. So that’s the dilemma the Bruins are facing with Cassidy calling it “a good problem to have” based on Khudobin’s strong play from the backup spot.

That is a far cry from what the Bruins experienced a year ago with the same goalie, and a reason for optimism that their goaltending situation will be better off throughout a long season.

“Do you go with the hot hand and leave your No. 1 sitting where he’s beginning to wonder what the hell is going on? That’s the decision,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We need to keep them both in a good place, and not lose out on [Khudobin’s] good run while keeping Tuukka focused and confident in his game. That’s what we’re battling and I talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] about it every day. We’ll make our decision [on Wednesday] and we hope it’s the right one.

“It’s a long year so no matter who we use there are a lot of starts. I don’t think Khudobin is going to go ice cold if he use Tuukka tomorrow, and I don’t think Tuukka is going to blow a gasket if we go with the hot hand. For me I don’t think it’s that big of a decision.”

Perhaps Rask blowing a gasket wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world given the way he’s played this season.

The one underlying concern for Rask beyond the .897 save percentage this season is that his game has really been in a different place for the last three seasons. While his .922 career save percentage mark is among the best in the NHL, he has been below that mark in each of the last three seasons while struggling to maintain consistently behind a changing roster that’s turning over to youth and inexperience.

It certainly seems like the Bruins feel it’s premature to label Rask as anything but their No. 1 goaltender, but the pause they’re giving on Wednesday night’s starter speaks volumes about their current confidence level in each of their puck-stoppers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE