Cehlarik makes first appearance in Bruins camp following shoulder surgery


Cehlarik makes first appearance in Bruins camp following shoulder surgery

BRIGHTON, Mass – After missing nearly the entire Bruins training camp, young Slovakian winger Peter Cehlarik has finally shed the red, non-contact jersey and returned to the fold following a gradual recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.

The 22-year-old had 20 goals in 49 games for the P-Bruins last season and notched a couple of assists in 11 games in Boston last year while mostly skating with David Krejci. He’d flashed soft hands, a good passing touch and the size/strength ability to be a factor around the net, but took a backseat last season once the Bruins traded for Drew Stafford at the deadline. The big left winger was again with Krejci and David Pastrnak during Friday’s practice while going through a full skate with the rest of the team, but he won’t be ready to play in Saturday’s preseason finale.

Cehlarik was simply just happy to finally be back on the ice

“It felt good to be with the guys after a long summer. I’ve just been trying to get back on the ice and get healthy,” said Cehlarik. “It still felt like the summer [until now]. It felt like camp just started for me today. You work hard to get back and be patient with it, but I’m feeling healthy now.

“No matter who I was practicing with, it finally felt like I was a part of the team. It was good and we’ll see what happens this weekend.”

It would certainly seem at this point Cehlarik is destined for the AHL given that he missed all of training camp, and that there’s already a glut of left wing candidates like Matt Beleskey, Frank Vatrano, Sean Kuraly and Jake DeBrusk before even entering the 6-foot-2, 202-pounder into the mix. Still, there’s no denying that given his size, skill level and the numbers he posted with Providence last season, Cehlarik could be a part of the NHL mix

“Especially at left wing it’s getting a little gummy over there, so we’ve got to sort through it,” said Bruce Cassidy. “[Cehlarik] was just cleared [medically], so we were just mixing him in today. We played him [with Krejci] last year in a lot of the games he played, so essentially we needed a spot for him to keep the continuity for the lines [against Chicago].

“I’ll say this about Peter. He looks like he’s improved his skating and he looks stronger. Like a lot of kids his age, it looks like it was a good summer for him. This injury unfortunately [didn’t allow] us to get a good look at him, but I think he would have learned a lot from his experience last year. I think when he finally does get back into our lineup I think it will be a positive for him. We’ve always liked Peter and we won a lot of games last year with him in the lineup.”

It remains to be seen how long it will take Cehlarik to get his next NHL chance with the Bruins, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen in the short term. Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Friday’s practice with the Bruins not expected to travel a loaded lineup to Chicago for their final tune-up against the Blackhawks:



















Feels like the B's could use an offensive spark plug like Donato

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Feels like the B's could use an offensive spark plug like Donato

BRIGHTON, Mass – The one thing that we’ve seen play out in the three losses to the Maple Leafs in their best-of-seven series is a lack of offensive finish on the chances that they’re getting against the Toronto defense. Boston has launched 162 shot attempts in the last two losses to the Maple Leafs both home and on the road, and they’ve managed to score just four goals despite clearly holding the advantage in terms of puck possession, chances and vulcanized rubber tossed at the opposing net.

Most concerning of all, the Bruins top line players in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak all looked visibly frustrated by the third period of Monday night’s Game 6 loss, and really look like they’re beginning to be at a loss at how to beat Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen. It still remains to be seen if Andersen is going to be able to continue the hot goaltender act in a winner-take-all Game 7 situation, or if that the frustration for Boston’s elite players will spill over into an elimination game for both teams. 

But one thing that should be strongly considered given all those recent factors would be inserting 21-year-old Ryan Donato into the lineup for the Bruins. Donato had five goals and nine points in 12 games for the Bruins at the end of the season after signing out of Harvard University and was excellent on the power play while working with the top unit during Rick Nash’s injury absence in those final weeks. Now the secondary scoring has essentially dried up for the B’s behind their top line, the weight of the entire offense has begun to burden the top line and the Bruins power play is 1-for-9 in their last four games after bounding out of the gate red hot to start the series. 

Donato has the natural goal-scoring ability, the shot and release and the good hockey IQ to create offense in pretty rapid fashion, and has always been a possibility for the Black and Gold if the offense got a little too static during the postseason. Donato played in one game where he had a couple of shots and some decent time working things out in the offensive zone, but he also showed he’s got some things to learn in terms of board battles and defensive zone work.

There’s also the fact the Bruins seem much more comfortable with Donato at left wing than they do with him manning his off-wing on the right side. 

That’s the dilemma for Bruce Cassidy when it comes to mulling an insertion of Donato into the lineup to act as an offensive jumper cable of sorts. Clearly, they’ve mulled it over and given the idea it’s due diligence in discussions, but it doesn’t sound like the Bruins are going to drop the youngster into Wednesday night’s Game 7 scenario. 

“We’ve considered [playing Donato] certainly,” said Cassidy. “He played a game early [in the series] and he was okay. He wasn’t bad and he wasn’t great. He was somewhere in between. Nothing is set in stone as far as [Game 7] goes. There is something to be said for going with the players that have got you this far, and Danton Heinen is one of those players. 

“Danton has played right wing, and that’s where Donato in our minds is really strictly a left winger. That’s where the juggling would come in if we were going to use Ryan. It was Wingels last night with good playoff experience on the road, and I thought he did a good job. Ryan is in consideration, but we’re going to try and play the best 12 forwards and see how they fit to win a hockey game [on Wednesday]. 

This humble hockey writer’s view: It probably would have been a better idea to give Donato at right wing a shot in Game 6 at the Air Canada Centre rather than trying to pass Tommy Wingels off as a second line winger. If the move didn’t work out in Boston’s favor then at least there was still Game 7 to fall back on, but that’s in the rearview mirror. Cassidy needs to decide between going with the tried and true formula of what got the Bruins to this point in the first place while showing unshakable faith, or mixing things up in a tacit acknowledgment that something needs to change after Boston’s two losses in a row in the series headed into Game 7. 

It’s not an easy choice and so much of winning a Game 7 situation is avoiding the kind of rookie mistakes that Donato could easily fall victim to if he was in the lineup for Boston, but it also feels a little tight and a tad conservative for Cassidy to decide that the super-talented young Donato doesn’t have enough upside to push into the lineup. 

It might just come down to this: If you have a choice of which Bruin should have the puck in a key scoring chance during the game, would be it Tommy Wingels, Danton Heinen or Ryan Donato. All due respect to both Wingels and Heinen, but it’s the electric Donato amid some healthy offensive totals he had no trouble scoring when given regular playing time in March and April.


A return for Heinen looks like only Game 7 lineup change

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A return for Heinen looks like only Game 7 lineup change

BRIGHTON, Mass – It remains an unfinished product until the Bruins take the ice for warm-ups on Wednesday night ahead of Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it looked like Bruce Cassidy would again be tinkering with the Black and Gold lineup. It looked like Danton Heinen was going to draw back in after being a healthy scratch for Game 6, and was skating on the right wing with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk at practice. 

If that were the case then Tommy Wingels would be back out of the lineup after dressing for Game 6, and both Ryan Donato and Brian Gionta would once be out of the game night group of 12 forwards for the decisive Wednesday night game. Cassidy said there is plenty to consider, of course, but that he felt some allegiance to the players that have brought the Bruins this far over the course of the entire regular season. 

“What we decide to do tomorrow it’s not set in stone today,” said Cassidy. “But there is a certain level of trust in the players that have gotten you this far, and Danton Heinen is certainly one of those guys. You look at his numbers and maybe that line hasn’t produced a lot 5-on-5…so what can do better? 

“He’s still a good defensive player, so he’s always going to give us that. He can play up in the lineup and he’s certainly shown that he can play down with [Sean] Kuraly. Rick Nash can certainly go back with Krejci, so that’s another quick fix.”

Here are the line combos and D-pairings based on Tuesday’s brief practice where it appeared that everybody made it through Game 6 with their health intact ahead of Wednesday’s winner-take-all series finale: