Bruins

Haggerty: Bruins final roster could feature big forward group

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Haggerty: Bruins final roster could feature big forward group

BRIGHTON, Mass – When the Bruins convene for Media Day on Tuesday morning, the NHL roster should be finalized for the league’s 3 p.m. deadline, and the group should have a decidedly young look to it. There’s not only 21-year-old Brandon Carlo and 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy on the back end, but there should also be a couple of very young faces in key spots up front with Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk expected to make the final Boston roster.

It’s a good thing that Bruce Cassidy honed his teaching skills at the AHL level during his long stint coaching Providence, and is comfortable showing the patience and understanding needed to get the most out of young players in an unforgiving league. The Bruins coach clearly has a bead on that skill set where perhaps his predecessor did not with younger players chafing under the formerly rigid, conservative system in place.

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“They need to be comfortable, and not crapping their pants wondering what’s going on around them with 20,000 people in the building. What’s coach going to say? What’s my center iceman going to say that’s going to be a Hall of Famer?” said Cassidy, of his mantra for the younger B’s charges. “Whatever. They’ve got to play. They’ve got to be themselves and they’ve got to play. That’s the message that I think the coach has to find a way to get across. You’ve also got to bear in mind that there will be some butterflies for them.”

It looks like Cassidy is going to have to make that speech for a number of rookies and second-year players with Danton Heinen, Peter Cehlarik and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson all announced as late Monday afternoon cuts. That leaves the Bruins with 26 players in camp (15 forwards, nine defensemen and two goalies) and the need to cut at least three bodies from the current group before they ready to host the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

So what will the Bruins do to pare down to at least the 23-player maximum for the NHL’s regular season roster?

The easiest choice seems to be on the back end where Rob O’Gara and Emil Johansson should be headed to Providence in the next couple of days. O’Gara has solid in camp, but he really struggled when paired with Brandon Carlo on the road in Philadelphia during last week’s preseason action. Couple that with Matt Grzelcyk getting nearly all the reps with Adam McQuaid while boasting a similar set of skills to the injured Torey Krug, and it would appear the pride of Charlestown is going to crack the roster at least until Krug is healthy.

It would appear, at least to start, that Postma will serve in the 7th defenseman role, and provide the Bruins with an experienced, offensively adept D-man option when they need to dip into their back reserves.

Cassidy and the Bruins already made their choice between the pipes after placing Malcolm Subban on waivers, and it will be the tested tandem of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin to start the season. Given the way the Bruins schedule will roll out this season, it might be almost two weeks before the Bruins need their backup goaltender to enter the mix anyway.

The real challenge is up front where the Bruins will either go with 13 or 14 forwards to start the season after many of those players had strong training camp efforts. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner, David Backes, Matt Beleskey and Riley Nash are locks to make the NHL roster. It would appear that Anders Bjork has done enough to start the season at right wing alongside Bergeron and Marchand, and Jake DeBrusk will at least get the first look at left wing alongside Krejci and Pastrnak are skating with them for nearly all of camp.

It would have been better if DeBrusk could have shown a little more offensive finish in his chances with Krejci and Pastrnak during the preseason, but he does enough power forward-like things to help that line if he doesn’t start scoring immediately.

“I think I showed a lot of what I can do. There’s always room for improvement. It is just the preseason, but I showed some good qualities that I have. I do think there’s more [to my game] and that I can do better,” said DeBrusk. “The offense will come. Playing with two players like [Krejci and Pastrnak] or even I’m not, I’m looking to get on the board as early as possible and do anything I can to help the team. Growing up and going through my hockey career, I’ve always been a goal-scorer.”

That leaves three or four spots for a group that includes Sean Kuraly, Frank Vatrano, Noel Acciari, Tim Schaller and Austin Czarnik after Teddy Purcell was released from his camp tryout on Monday morning. Czarnik has been missing from practice for the last couple of days with an illness that seems to be lingering, so perhaps the diminutive center starts the season on the injured list. Truth be told, Czarnik probably deserves an NHL spot more than Vatrano does after the Springfield, Mass. native had a very average training camp, but the Bruins may not want to make the sharp-shooting winger available on the waiver wire.

Provided Czarnik is eligible to be placed on injured reserve to start the season, here is the likely roster that we’ll see the Bruins submit to the NHL on Tuesday afternoon with a very competitive group of 14 forwards:

 

Forwards (14): Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner, David Backes, Riley Nash, Matt Beleskey, Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly, Frank Vatrano, Noel Acciari and Tim Schaller.

Defenseman (7): Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Adam McQuaid and Paul Postma.

Goalies (2): Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin.

Injured reserve: Torey Krug, Austin Czarnik.    

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A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

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A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

BRIGHTON, Mass – It sounds like the toughness quotient might be going up quite a bit higher for the Bruins in the near future.

Adam McQuaid may be cleared to play as soon as Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, or at least later on in the week if it doesn’t happen against the rough-and-tumble, Metro Division Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-5 hard-nosed defender has been out for nearly two months with a broken right fibula, but has been back skating with the Bruins for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t know if Monday he’ll be cleared, but he’s getting close. He’s practicing with us, so it’s imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact day,” said Cassidy of McQuaid, who was one of a handful of players along with Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Frank Vatrano, Paul Postma and Anton Khudobin that skated on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.

There certainly may be some rust in McQuaid’s game after missing the last 24 cgames dating back to the Oct. 19 injury. Ddding another tough customer and D-zone warrior certainly won't hurt the Bruins. In the short term, the presence of McQuaid could protect some of B's top players like Brad Marchand who has received some questionable hits over the last couple of months. In the long term his presence adds more size, strength and toughness in the defensive zone.

In terms of pairings it would be logical to swing Kevan Miller back over to the left side, and potentially pull rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup once McQuaid is ready to play. But Bruce Cassidy indicated it won’t be that simple, and there may be times when the Bruins roll seven defensemen given their strength in numbers once McQuaid comes back.

“If you take the last guy in, Grzelcyk, [out of the lineup] then you’re back to your four righty [defensemen]. We had mixed levels of success with that, and then it’s a matter of who on the right Is going to come out if he stick with the three lefties,” said Cassidy. “That’s an internal discussion that we’ve already started to have. He will definitely help the penalty kill. It could be a different lineup every night where we go with six D one night, and then go with seven D the next night. It will create good competition.”

McQuaid wants to temper the excitement now that he’s on the verge of a return, and is simply putting in work until he’s given the green light to play. The busy NHL schedule and the lack of quality practice time isn't the perfect scenario for the 31-year-old defenseman to return, so it’s simply a matter of doing what’s best for player and team.

“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously. I’ve missed a lot of time, but it’s a process. I just try to approach it like I’m not getting my hopes up too much,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 in the six games he did appear in. “We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. The more and more game-like situations you get in [can help].

“We haven’t gone too far down the road so I don’t know exactly [when I’ll return]. I’m just out there trying to get closer, but I’m excited about where I’m at and the possibility of moving forward. It’s been fun watching the guys, but I can’t wait to get back in there and be part of a winning hockey team again.”

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Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

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Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while I still remain pretty conflicted about my thoughts on the Last Jedi. See yesterday’s morning skate for the full review.

*Happy Holidays from the Boston Bruins, who all wore spiffy Christmas-inspired suits into TD Garden for Saturday night’s game against the Rangers. The clear winners are Christmas Elf Brad Marchand and bedazzled Patrice Bergeron, but everybody is a winner when they’re in the holiday spirit.

*Here’s a blueprint for all 31 NHL teams to get an outdoor game next season if you’re really looking to run the concept into the ground.

*Everybody loves a goalie fight, and the Providence Bruins had one last night even if it was more like slightly angry hugging than actual fighting.

*This quick snippet from an Ottawa Senators radio broadcast this weekend is one of the oddest things I’ve heard in a while. No idea what took them down that path.

*Speaking of the Senators, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he has no idea why the Sens are having such big attendance problems at their arena. I can think of one reason: location, location and location.

*Larry Brooks goes over the Sean Avery memoir just in time for Christmas for all those looking for a stocking stuffer, or just looking for the perfect gift for that hockey rat in your life.

*Hacksaw Jim Duggan dropping the puck for a minor league hockey game is definitely something to brag about. Ho!

*For something completely different: 20 years later, the crazy story of how the blockbuster Titanic ultimately got made.

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