Bruins

Kelly, Campbell close to re-signing with Bruins

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Kelly, Campbell close to re-signing with Bruins

While the details still need to be ironed out, both sides of the negotiating table have communicated to CSNNE.com that centers Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell are close to finalizing multi-year deals that will keep them in Boston.

With those close-to-ironclad agreements, it appears the Bruins are ready to take another two or three stabs at a second Stanley Cup with virtually the same cast of characters.

Key players like Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin -- who came up woefully short at times during the postseason -- will once again be counted upon to power Bostons engine.

Once Kelly and Campbell have signed on the dotted line, the Bruins will have their four centers intact, and the only winger to remain unsigned will be restricted free agent Benoit Pouliot.

A nucleus-altering deal could be in the cards for Boston at some point, and David Krejci would be the most logical piece with value that could be moved.

But it wouldnt radically change the roster for the reigning Cup champions. ("Reigning" until things get sorted out between Los Angeles and New Jersey, obviously.)

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has already stated hell be searching for a "top 9" forward, so that points to at least one addition being made to the Boston front line.

Names like Ryan Smyth, Olli Jokinen, P.A. Parenteau, Steve Sullivan and Ray Whitney dot a forward free-agent market thats very thin behind players like Zach Parise, Shane Doan and Teemu Selanne that have little-to-zero shot of coming to Boston.

It appears Nathan Horton is being counted on for a full recovery, and the Bruins will need his scoring and big-bodied presence around the net.

Its clear the Bruins were an offensively robust team prior to Horton taking a head shot in late January, and a less productive hockey club while going a pedestrian 18-16-2 over the final 36 games leading into the playoffs.

With Horton back and Rich Peverley slotted back into a better-fitting third-line role, the Bruins should look much more like the team that finished second in the NHL with 3.17 goals per game.

Horton is a big key for them in my mind, said one NHL scout that watched the Bruins closely all of last season. If he comes back then their top line and their third line are better for it. For my money, Peverley is a great third line player and thats what theyve got him pegged as. Trouble starts when you have to those kinds of guys up and down the lineup.

Its the kind of trouble that turns into a one-and-out in the playoffs.

Top drawer players like Rick Nash and Parise will be available for the highest bidder, but it's doubtful that bidder represents the Black and Gold. That would change if the Bs seriously entertained dealing away Lucic, Dougie Hamilton or Seguin, but there is zero shot of that.

That goes doubly so if the Bruins are saddled with the 5 million of Tim Thomas while hes off singing Rocky Mountain High for the season.

The defense will largely be the same as well.

Joe Corvo and his questionable on-ice decisions are gone in a classic case of addition by subtraction, and the 18-year-old Hamilton is expected to make the team after a summer of development camp, rookie training camp, and full Bruins training camp as NHL orientation.

But aside from Hamilton teaching the rest of the Black and Gold how to Dougie besides, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand learned that last summer the Bs blueline corps should also be extremely familiar.

The only big difference for next season is between the pipes. Thomas is gone and has played his last game for the Boston Bruins no matter how his situation is resolved.

Tuukka Rask will be the man in a transitional season when Bruins management thought hed begin taking over the reigns anyway.

Thats why Thomas no-movement clause is gone July 1, and thats why the Bruins structured his contract to make him attractive to teams seeking to surmount the salary cap floor heading into the 2012-13 season.

So the Bruins will hitch their wagons to Rask and Anton Khudobin for next season, and hope they see their Finnish netminder turn into a franchise goaltender. Theres no doubting the challenge in Rask's first legit chance outside the considerable Thomas shadow.

Rask should get something in the 3 million range when negotiations are finished for the arbitration-eligible restricted free agent, and it will be up to him to prove he can maintain consistency with a 60-game workload as the franchise goalie.

Bostons goaltending play will go a long way toward deciding just how good the Bruins can be post-Thomas, but recent moves show theyll be giving it another run with the same nucleus that captured the Cup.

While some will clamor for the flashy names or the biggest free agent gun on the market, the Bruins know they can win with what they have inside their dressing room right now.

Watching another team hoist the Cup this summer could be exactly what the Bs need to motivate them to stomp their way through the Eastern Conference next season. It is a wide open conference and will be won by a healthy, motivated team that has fight, luck, depth and some good old-fashioned skill on their side.

The Bruins are banking on having all of that and then some, even without their Conn Smythe winner.

Nobody knows if they can do it or not, but it should be fascinating to watch them try.

Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

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Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

The Bruins seemed to discover a winning formula on the West Coast. Now the challenge is to keep it going.

It took them more than a month of play in the regular season, but they finally won two games in a row. Anton Khudobin and the B's played strong defense and finally built leads against the Kings and Sharks, and they avoided the kind of soft goal or defensive mistake that has been at the heart of so many of their losses.

Clearly that kind of tight, defensive game is how they're going have to play until they get their full lineup back, and they need plenty of wins. They're currently stuck in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot.

"It's always nice to get a couple of wins, especially against tough teams," said David Krejci, who is scoreless but averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time  in the two games since returning from a back injury. "We knew we had some areas of our game that we had to improve, and we still do after the start to the game we had against San Jose. It's nice to get two in a row, and we're focusing on three in [New Jersey]. We're building toward something, and we're on the right track. It's a big game [against the Devils].

"Playing with a lead, playing good defensively and having a good, structured game with everybody buying in . . . when you have a young team and you're playing strong clubs like LA and San Jose, it really says a lot about what we're trying to do here when you can get the job done."

The good news is the Bruins are going to make it through the Thanksgiving marker within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but they're still just scratching the surface of what they need to do to stay relevant in the East. They're hoping that finally reeling off a couple of consecutive wins can start a run of good hockey at a time when they desperately need it.

"I think we've played as a five-man unit" said Kevan Miller. "Forwards are getting back to help the 'D', and defensemen are stepping up to help the forwards. When you play like that and everybody is on the same page, it makes it that much easier. I think everybody, whether you're coming from Providence or you're up here, has played the same systems, but it can be a little bit of a struggle to get everybody on the same page.

"We've done a pretty good job of that, but doing it for 60 minutes has been a bit of an issue. We're trying to work on that."

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Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

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Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

BRIGHTON, Mass – It had to be a bitter pill for Matt Grzelcyk to be sent back down to the AHL after playing solidly for the Bruins earlier this season. 

The 23-year-old Charlestown native was excellent playing in place of Torey Krug in Boston’s opening night win over the Nashville Predators, but his stay didn’t last very long. The former Boston University standout was back in the minor leagues shortly afterward once Krug returned from his fractured jaw a little earlier than expected. Now Krug is again banged up again with an upper body injury, and Grzelcyk has been called up to fill in for Krug during Wednesday night’s pre-Thanksgiving road game in New Jersey against the Devils.

Once again it will be about a focus on puck-moving and power play for Grzelcyk, who is the closest thing that the Bruins have to the smaller, skilled Krug in their minor-league system. 

“I was happy with how things went before I got sent to Providence, so I’m just going to try to do the things that I was doing well before I got sent down. Mentally knowing that I can play at the NHL level [is huge], and just going through the experience was positive,” said Grzelcyk. “Mentally my first year I think I was a little too nervous and tentatively with my play, and that’s not me at all when I’m at my best. I’m confident with the puck, and confident with my speed and ability. It was just about going out and doing it on the ice.”

Grzelcyk was okay down in Providence with four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games, but he’s been patiently waiting for another NHL call since logging 12:11 of solid puck-moving ice time in his lone appearance for Boston this season. Now he’ll get it in a likely pairing with Kevan Miller against the New Jersey Devils

“He’s a puck-mover. He’s quick. He can get up the ice and support the rush, and he’s a good distributor,” said Cassidy of Grzelcyk. “There are a lot of natural similarities to Torey [Krug] because of their physical makeup, but they are similar [players] with Torey at this level being a bit more significant offensive player. Whether it’s in [Grzelcyk] or not time will tell, but we believe it is and we just need to get it out of him.”

Grzelcyk will get a chance to show that offensive wrinkle and more when he suits up against the New Jersey Devils for his second game of the season after paying his dues with the P-Bruins overt the last month. 

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