Bruins

Colin Miller, McQuaid, Beleskey highlight B's players left unprotected

Colin Miller, McQuaid, Beleskey highlight B's players left unprotected

The Bruins released their protection list on Sunday morning for this week’s NHL Expansion Draft, and there are no real surprises among the group of players that will be available for the Vegas Golden Knights to pluck from the Boston roster. 

Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Tim Schaller, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Joe Morrow, Anton Khudobin and Malcolm Subban headline the list of players that the Bruins left unprotected, and available for selection by the Golden Knights. Beleskey was a big time disappointment this past season while mixing in a knee injury and some conditioning issues, but the decision to leave him open for an expansion draft has as much to do with three big contract years remaining for him as it does anything else. 

The biggest point of debate was over whether the B’s would use their final D spot, after choosing to protect seven forwards, three D-men and a goalie, to protect 24-year-old puck-moving defenseman Colin Miller, or 29-year-old stay-at-home defenseman Kevan Miller. Miller was strong over the second half of last season and a real stalwart in the playoffs, and the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder’s ability to play up and down the lineup while providing a physical presence creates real value. 

Unfortunately for the other Miller, Colin hasn’t really progressed all that much in two seasons at the NHL level and still hasn’t turned a bazooka shot, swift skating and all the tools into the top-4 defenseman he looks like he could be on his best days. Instead Miller will be exposed in the expansion draft a couple of seasons after being a key prospect sent to Boston in the Milan Lucic trade with the Kings, and could be headed for Vegas if they’re simply looking for a young player with a great deal of upside.

The guess at who Vegas will take: McQuaid. The 30-year-old defenseman is as tough as they come, is signed for a couple of years and is the kind of big, strong, tough D-man that Vegas coach Gerard Gallant prefers on the back end. It also doesn’t hurt that both McQuaid and Gallant hail from PEI, and that one of Vegas’ top scouts, Mike Foligno, was McQuaid’s head coach during his junior days with the Sudbury Wolves. Here is the list of protected players that the Bruins submitted on Saturday afternoon, and was published by the NHL on Sunday morning. Again, these B’s players can’t be selected in the expansion draft set for the middle of this week while the NHL Awards Show also plays on in the host city of Las Vegas: 

Protected
David Backes (F)
Patrice Bergeron (F)
David Krejci (F)
Brad Marchand (F)
Riley Nash (F)
David Pastrnak (F)
Ryan Spooner (F)
Zdeno Chara (D)
Torey Krug (D)
Kevan Miller (D)
Tuukka Rask (G)

Bruins announce that Patrice Bergeron will not play in game four

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File Photo

Bruins announce that Patrice Bergeron will not play in game four

TORONTO – The Bruins will need to take a pivotal Game 4 without their best player as Patrice Bergeron is out for Thursday night’s playoff game at the Air Canada Centre with an upper body injury. Bergeron will be day-to-day moving forward, but that’s not going to help the B’s as they lose one piece of a forward line that’s dominated the Maple Leafs through the first three games of the series.

It’s really not a great sign when the Bruins had two days off in Toronto between Game 3 and Game 4, and Bergeron still wasn’t able to give it a go on Thursday night. Instead it will be Riley Nash centering the top line between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and Tommy Wingels entering back into the lineup with No. 37 out of the lineup. There were a faint sign that something might be up with Bergeron when Riley Nash took some turns in his place at practice on Wednesday afternoon at Air Canada Centre, but no signal whatsoever that something was serious enough to keep him out of the lineup.

It goes without saying that the Bruins might be in big trouble if this Bergeron injury proves to be something that could cause him to miss multiple games in a best-of-seven series where the B’s currently hold a 2-1 lead. Bergeron had five assists and was a plus-4 rating in the first three games of the series with his line amassing 20 points in the first two games of the series.   

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 based on pregame warm-ups at the Air Canada Centre:

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Nash

Heinen-Kuraly-Backes

Schaller-Acciari-Wingels

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Miller

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

 

Rask

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Grzelcyk looks "good to go"; Rooney one of refs for Game 4

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File Photo

Grzelcyk looks "good to go"; Rooney one of refs for Game 4

TORONTO – It looks like Matt Grzelcyk will be making his return to the Bruins lineup after a one-game absence with a lower body injury.

The Bruins rookie D-man took part in an optional skate at the Air Canada Centre for the Black and Gold on Thursday morning, and will be playing provided he gets through the pregame warm-ups without any hitches. A healthy Grzelcyk will replace Nick Holden in the B’s lineup and give Boston that puck-moving, fast-skating D-man that can be pretty effective counteracting a speedy, aggressive Toronto fourth line that’s been pretty good in the series thus far.

“He’s out there [skating] now, so he should be good to go. Obviously, it will be warm-ups and a game-time decision, but I anticipate he’ll go in,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He’s complemented well by his partner, who is usually [Adam] McQuaid or [Kevan] Miller. So you get a duo where he’s able to transition the puck very well by himself, and get out of some piles with the D-zone coverage and make a good first pass.

“He can track down pucks before defenses get set or during a line change, he’s good at getting it up [the ice] and seeing who is available. He’s very low risk generally in his game, and he does some very good things at the O-zone blue line to keep plays alive for us.”

The return of Grzelcyk appears to be the only change to the Bruins lineup ahead of a pivotal Game 4 made a little more intriguing by the NHL’s selection of South Boston native Chris Rooney as one of tonight’s referees (along with Gord Dwyer). Rooney has always carried the well-worn reputation of a referee that goes extra-hard on the Bruins to prove there isn’t a bias toward the hometown team, and the Bruins have a 7-9 record over the last three seasons in games officiated by Rooney. It’s not a main reason for the Bruins to either win or lose the game, but certainly something to keep an eye on as things unfold tonight in Toronto.

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. the Maple Leafs in Game 4 based on morning skate:  

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Nash

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Miller

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

Rask

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE