Haggerty: Bruins final roster could feature big forward group


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.


“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.    


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.