Cznarik looks to bring 'energy' in return to Bruins

Cznarik looks to bring 'energy' in return to Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – The key word was “energy” for Austin Czarnik in his return to the Boston after spending the last few weeks getting his game squared away in Providence. 

Czarnik hasn’t played an NHL game since the home loss to Toronto Feb. 4 that eventually got Claude Julien fired. He also battled an upper body injury before returning to play the past five games with the P-Bruins.

He’ll step back into the third-line center spot tonight at home against the Detroit Red Wings. Czarnik  replaces Ryan Spooner (concussion), with Frank Vatrano and Jimmy Hayes on his wings, and is looking to have his good legs and optimal energy level to create chances with his aggressive fore-checking style.

“It’s unfortunate that Spooner is injured, but now it’s my chance to get back into the lineup and see what I can do to help us get a win,” said Czarnik. “It’s about keeping on [my game] and working hard. [I’ve got to] work on the fore-check and being an energy guy. At times maybe I didn’t have the energy that I needed to so I’m going to try to focus on that even more and get it into my game more.”

Czarnik was a point-per-game player with a goal and five points in those five games in Providence and hopes to elevate his game in the NHL after posting five goals and 13 points in 47 games, along with a minus-10 rating, in the first half of the season. 

He certainly wasn’t bad in his first NHL go-round before being sent to Providence, but Bruce Cassidy said Czarnik needs to play with a “high motor” all the time if the 5-foot-9, 167-pounder is going to bring some of his AHL effectiveness to the NHL.

“When he’s playing his game he’s got good energy, he’s on the puck and he’s creating some turnovers with his foot-speed and his stick and his hockey IQ,” said Cassidy, who said that Czarnik will play in all situations, including penalty kill and power play. “He and Vatrano certainly have some good chemistry and he’s been good in situational hockey for us.

“He’s going to get to play in all situations, so hopefully he’s going to respond. He’s been up here before so he should know what to expect in that regard. As a smaller guy, he’s had to learn what he can get away with and what he can’t, so this time we’re going to find out what he’s learned in that area. He thinks the game well and it has to be one of his best assets, that and a high motor. We’ve talked about that. If he’s not playing with a high motor, then his effectiveness will decrease. Those are the things we’re looking for.”

If anybody should benefit from Cassidy’s up-tempo and aggressive style, it should be Czarnik. He’ll get his chance to show that with Spooner out indefinitely with a concussion suffered on Monday night. 

Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues

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Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues

Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal of the game 30 seconds into overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

Schwartz skated up the middle and fired a shot past Anton Khudobin. The Blues won for the fifth time in six games to move within a point of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Jake Allen made 21 saves to improve to 24-21-2.

Ryan Donato scored for Boston. The Bruins clinched a playoff spot and moved within four points of Tampa Bay for the Eastern lead.

Schwartz tied it midway through the third period with a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

Donato scored his second goal in his second NHL game. He had a goal and two assists in a 5-4 loss to Columbus on Monday night.

Donato, still a student at Harvard University, returned to Massachusetts on Tuesday to attend class before flying back to St. Louis to rejoin the Bruins. His father, Ted, played 528 games in two stints with the Bruins (1992-99, 2003-04).

Donato, who played for the U.S. Olympic team last month, drilled a shot past Allen. A clearing attempt by Alex Piertrangelo hit referee Brad Watson and the pick bounced right to Donato.

Boston, which has a game in hand on Tampa Bay, joined Nashville and Tampa Bay as only teams to have clinched playoff spots.


Boston was without seven key players:- C Patrice Bergeron (fractured left foot), D Charlie McAvoy (left knee), D Zdeno Chara (upper body), LW Jake DeBrusk (upper body), RW David Backes (right leg laceration), D Torey Krug (upper body) and LW Rick Nash (upper body). They have combined for 101 goals and 161 assists.

NOTES:- St. Louis RW Vladimir Tarasenko missed his second successive game after taking an elbow to the face against the New York Rangers on Saturday. ... The Bruins have least one point in 12 of their last 15 games against St. Louis. ... Only three Boston players - RW David Pastrnak, C Tim Schaller and C Sean Kuraly - have played in every game this season.


Bruins: At Dallas on Friday night in the second game of a four-game trip.

Blues: Host Vancouver on Friday night.

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.