Unheralded Bruins draftee Lauzon taking the tough road to Boston


Unheralded Bruins draftee Lauzon taking the tough road to Boston

Jeremy Lauzon was enjoying a breakthrough junior hockey season when he was reminded just how dangerous the game can be.

During last spring's Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs, the Bruins draftee fell to the ice behind the net and felt something on the side of his neck as he rose to get back into the play.

At first Lauzon thought it was a high stick. Then he saw the blood on the ice, and realized he'd been cut with an errant skate blade.

It was a scary situation, to say the least, for the Quebec-born Lauzon, who posted 10 goals and 50 points in 46 games for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies as a 19-year-old defenseman last season.

"I was really lucky," he said. "I had a neck-guard, but it got me between the neck-guard and the helmet. The only thing I think you can do to [help prevent something like that] is to get up off the ice as quickly as possible."

Lauzon underwent immediate surgery to re-attack nerve and muscle that had been severed in the incident, which clearly could have been life-threatening had medical officials not intervened as quickly as they did.

"I wasn’t scared to get back on the ice, it was just tough mentally because I couldn’t get out and help my teammates on the ice during that series," he said. “We won that series and I had a chance to come back, too. It went pretty well all things considered. I came back to play five games in the Memorial Cup. It was tough, but I was trying to be positive.”

Lauzon could have had complications involving the strength and mobility in his right arm, but everything worked out for the 2015 second-round pick, who looked as good as ever during last week’s Development Camp.

The knock on some players, like defenseman Jakub Zboril, is that the focused effort isn’t always there. That's never the case with Lauzon.

“It was a very scary injury and after it happened we all talked to him as an organization,” said Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo, who was in charge of player development last season. “He was committed to getting back for the Memorial Cup, and sure enough he was back in May. He is a dedicated kid. When you watch him out there he’s really competitive and he’s got high character. Those are the kinds of players that you’re looking for.

“He put up a lot of points. He likes to jump up into the play, but he’s also a smart player that pays attention at both ends of the ice. He had an impressive year last year.”

Lauzon is expected to go back to junior hockey for a fourth season in the “Q”, and could be in line for a monster campaign as he focuses on the areas Boston has outlined for his improvement.

“They want to see me get more mobile in the defensive zone, and to get bigger and more physical,” said Lauzon. “I think I did that pretty well last year, and offensively that was pretty good, too. I thought I had a great season, and the offense was really rolling. Now I’m coming here with that in the background, and hopefully at main camp this year that I’m going to be ready.

“Last year at main camp it was all new for me, but I now I know what to expect and I’ll be more ready. I want to be one of those players that is going to be really tough to play against in all areas. That’s my goal.”

But there’s also a chance Lauzon could be the kind of young player to “pop” in training camp. The skating game is there, the shot is certainly there and his outlet passing out of the defensive zone was pretty good in Development Camp.

There’s also the added benefit that Lauzon’s play seems to go up a notch once the puck is dropped. He returned from the frightening neck injury and wound up with eight points in nine total playoff games, before and after the injury, while showing the hardnosed toughness Boston is looking for in its players.

“Jeremy’s compete level is off the charts,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “You realize he had a very scary injury and he circled the calendar that he was going to be back for the Memorial Cup. His doctors, his parents -- and his parents are actual doctors-- are saying put the brakes on here, but he made it back and I was actually there to see him play first game back after being off [with injury].

“The competitive nature didn’t take a backseat despite the injury. Developmentally he’s got areas [to improve], just like everybody else, and they’ll continue to focus on and work on. We’ve identified them and we’ll talk to him about it, but he’s excited about coming to camp. I’ve said all along the players will dictate when they play [in the NHL]. The trajectory is not predetermined. When the pond gets a little deeper, are you able to swim and stay there? Each player will have to determine that themselves.”

So the projection may be sooner, though more likely later, for Lauzon. Still, the youngster already seems to be on the trajectory for a top-4 role at the NHL level given his puck skills, his all-out effort in both zones and a 6-foot-2, 193-pound frame that projects to get bigger and stronger.

Right now Lauzon is one of the lesser-known prospects for the B’s because he wasn’t a first-round phenom. But he could end up being the best defenseman of them all.

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

AP Photo

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

GOLD STAR: Every once in a while Brad Marchand wills the Bruins to a win that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had, and that happened again on Friday night with a three-point explosion for No. 63 in the final 20 minutes. Marchand finished with a goal and three points in 19:57 of ice time along with a plus-2 rating, and played a key role in the three-goal outburst that allowed the B’s to vanquish a 2-0 deficit. It was Marchand that opted not to shoot from the face-off dot with a look at the net in the closing seconds, and instead dropped it down low to David Pastrnak as he curled around the net and pushed a puck past Kari Lehtonen for the game-winner. Marchand finished with two shots on net, eight total shot attempts and a number of big plays in the third period redirecting pucks in close, kicking off shorthanded scoring plays and then setting up clutch game-winners in the final 15 seconds of the game. It’s the kind of night where Marchand played like an MVP even if he isn’t going to get much of a sniff at the Hart Trophy. 

BLACK EYE: Jamie Benn scored a shorthanded goal for the Dallas Stars, but he also jumped up in the air and clobbered Brad Marchand from behind with a completely unnecessary hit in the third period that went without a penalty being called. Instead it seemed to incense Marchand, who never gave up in the final sequence and ultimately fed a pass to David Pastrnak down low for the game-winner with just 11.1 seconds remaining in the game. Benn finished a minus-2 for Dallas while being on the ice for a pair of goals against, had a brutal 1-for-7 performance in the face-off dot and really acted like a punk on the play with Marchand in the third period. Benn is a better player than that and shouldn’t be resorting that level on a fellow star player like Marchand. 

TURNING POINT: Once again the Bruins really turned things around in the third period while outscoring the Stars by a 3-0 margin, and really flooding the Dallas net with 10 of their 36 shots on net for the night. It all started with a relentless shift from Boston’s top line where Riley Nash made a pass from his knees before taking a big hit, and then Brad Marchand redirected a David Pastrnak shot from the slot off his leg and into the net for Boston’s first goal. That first score finally allowed the Bruins to begin building some momentum, score each of the next two goals as the game slipped away from Dallas and once again proved themselves as a hockey club that one doesn’t ever doubt in the third period. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Tuukka Rask had a career-high 40 saves and turned away some really good looks from the Dallas offense while showing exactly what the Bruins can be capable of when their goaltending is on point. The only goals that beat Rask were a first period score with droves of traffic in front of the net, and a second period shorthanded score for Jamie Benn where he pulled one of those unconventional finishing moves on Rask at the very end. Rask made 11 saves on the Dallas power play alone during a trio of PP chances, and made a crucial leg pad save on Antoine Roussel in the third period that helped open things up for the goal-scoring outburst late in the game. Hopefully the strong, resounding performance from Rask answers some of the questions about some of his recent so-so performances between the pipes.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 29 – the number of goals this season for David Pastrnak as he readies to become only the ninth Bruins player to hit the 30-goal plateau in back-to-back seasons over the last 35 years of franchise history. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Resiliency. We didn’t want to go quietly for sure. We can live with the end result as long as we play the right way. The end result went our way again in the end, and I think that’s a credit to the guys.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN about another comeback win for the Black and Gold.

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

AP Photo

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

DALLAS - David Pastrnak broke a tie with 12 seconds left and the Boston Bruins scored three straight goals in the third period to rally past the fading Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.

A scramble followed a faceoff in the Dallas end, and Brad Marchand passed to Pastrnak in front. While falling down, he put the puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

TALKING POINTS: B's resiliency on full display vs Stars

Tuukka Rask made a season-high 40 saves for the Bruins. Marchand scored Boston's first goal and also assisted on a short-handed goal by Tim Schaller that tied it midway through the third period.

The second-place Bruins won for the first time in three games (1-0-2) to move within four points of Atlantic Division leader Tampa Bay. Boston has already clinched a playoff berth.

The Stars are winless in their last seven games (0-5-2). They remained four points behind Colorado for the second Western Conference wild card.

Dallas led 2-0 on a first-period goal by Esa Lindell and Jamie Benn's short-handed score late in the second.

In the third, Marchand tipped in a shot by Pastrnak before Schaller scored on a 2-on-1 with Marchand.

Lehtonen finished with 33 saves.

Lindell scored 2:26 into the game. Jason Dickinson tried to deflect a shot from the right point into the net but the puck went wide right. Curtis McKenzie picked it up behind the goal line and passed to Lindell high in the left faceoff circle. His wrist shot went in off Rask's right arm.

Benn missed two good scoring opportunities early in the second period, but connected at 19:22. He took a pass from Tyler Seguin at the Dallas blue line and had a breakaway when Matt Grzelcyk fell down. Benn slid a backhand under Rask.