Julien hopes Backes brings Krejci line to life

Julien hopes Backes brings Krejci line to life

BRIGHTON, Mass. – With Patrice Bergeron expected to return to the Bruins lineup for the home opener tonight vs. New Jersey, the hope is that addition will bring some balance to the forward group. After all, it's been a noticeably sluggish start from David Krejci and his makeshift linemates over the season's first three games. 

Krejci, coming back from offseason hip surgery, has one assist in the first three games and he’s been uncharacteristically quiet while centering one player out of position (Ryan Spooner) and another suiting up for the first NHL games of his career (Danton Heinen).

With Bergeron back between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, that allows 32-year-old David Backes to slide down next to Krejci on the right side of the second line while Heinen swings from right wing to his strong side left wing position.

Claude Julien hopes that chain reaction brings a little more offensive balance to his lineup and ceases making the Black and Gold attack so top heavy after relying on Marchand, Backes and Pastrnak to carry them in the early games.

“Well, it has [been quiet],” said Julien when asked about the Krejci line. “There’s a young player on that line and Spoons, who hasn’t been as good as you need him to be. So it’s been hard, and Krejci is coming off a major hip surgery. So, he’s got to find his game and work through that stuff, so it’s kind of expected a little bit that it’s not going to succeed with that [combination].

“But Backes is going to be a big help, I think, to David [Krejci] and gives some experience, some size and obviously some grit [to that line]. I’m not sure how much of a good look I’ve had [with Heinen] because they didn’t play quite like I thought they would play. It didn’t matter who we put on the fourth line, they just played so well, [Riley] Nash moved up to the third [line] and had some better shifts even if they didn’t produce. So it’s about finding that good balance that’s going to get some good scoring from all of the lines.”

The Krejci line with Spooner and Heinen accounted for two assists and 11 shots on net in their three games together and is due for the change they’ll get tonight when Backes brings his size, strength and finishing ability to Boston’s second line. 


Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

It might have caused a ripple when Ryan Donato wasn’t on the ice on Tuesday afternoon in St. Louis for Bruins practice on the day after his brilliant, three-point NHL debut for the Black and Gold. But the 21-year-old Donato was still back in the Boston area fulfilling some class requirements at Harvard University to help him close out the current semester properly, and not lose the credits that will keep him in line with fulfilling his junior year at Harvard University.

Believe it or not, the schoolwork is important to the newest member of the Boston Bruins and he intends to study and hit the books on his road trips, and also intends to take classes in the summertime to still graduate on time next season.

“I’m planning on finishing the semester academically. I want to finish the semester academically,” said Donato, after Monday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena prior to last night’s debut vs. Columbus. “Obviously it’s going to be something that’s difficult, but for me it was a dream to graduate from Harvard. I’m putting that off a little bit, but I need to be able to finish this semester in order to have that opportunity, and not put it off for another couple of years. I want to finish out the semester.”

Donato is also still living in the Harvard dorms while “moonlighting” as an NHL hockey player for the rest of the season, but that isn’t all so uncommon among some of the college players that leave school early. Charlie McAvoy was similarly living in the Boston University dorms last spring through Boston’s playoff run, and didn’t clear out of his college living situation until after the Black and Gold had been eliminated by the Ottawa Senators last April.

Missing practices on an NHL schedule is certainly a new one with, Donato, however, and takes the student-athlete concept to a whole new level for somebody that's already turned pro. One has to expect this was one of the things being discussed in full when the Donato family, Ryan's agent and the Bruins discussed his contract terms over the weekend before coming to an agreement.

Along with Donato, who is scheduled to fly into St. Louis and play against the Blues on Wednesday night, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, David Backes, Jake DeBrusk, Rick Nash and Torey Krug were all missing from the ice at Tuesday’s team practice ahead of a four game road trip against Western Conference opponents.


Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

File photo

Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while not really digging these forecasts of more snow.

*You know, if he weren’t making millions and millions of dollars I might actually feel bad for ol' Claude Julien up in Montreal busting out the “We’re not a very good team” soliloquy with the Habs. That team flat out stinks this season and these past few weeks it can’t be fun at all being the head coach of that dumpster fire.

*Darren Dreger says there is no rush for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring back Auston Matthews before he’s ready to go, and that’s absolutely the case so close to the playoffs.

*Here are five Hart Trophy-caliber players that won’t get a sniff of the voting, but deserve some attention nonetheless. There are no Bruins players on the list if you’re wondering, but some pretty good ones in Johnny Gaudreau and Aleksander Barkov.

*The NHL general managers are weighing potential changes to the goalie-interference interpretation ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

*While it still looks a Swedish defenseman is going to be the No. 1 overall pick this June, there are some other players rocketing up the list.

*For something completely different: The definitive ranking of Girl Scout cookies from best-to-worst that we’ve all been waiting for.

*Song of the Week: Haven’t done one of these in a long, long time, but I like this Calvin Harris/Katy Perry/Pharrell Williams tune that I hadn’t heard until the past couple of days.