Beleskey gets his groove back, and Bruins are delighted


Beleskey gets his groove back, and Bruins are delighted

BRIGHTON -- After the most disappointing season of his NHL career, Matt Beleskey has turned a summer of motivated work into a training camp of results.

The 29-year-old was at a bit of a crossroads with the Bruins after a knee injury, and the associated conditioning issues, dropped him to three goals and eight points with a minus-10 in 49 games.


Beleskey was talked about in trade rumors and left unprotected in this summer's expansion draft. Some even wondered if the Bruins might attempt to buy out the final three years of his contract. But Beleskey wound up staying, and was determined to put in the hard offseason work necessary to get back to his previous level of hard-nosed, maximum-effort play.

So far it's worked. In training camp Beleskey was a gritty, physical player able to keep up with the high-tempo pace and make the subtle plays -- screening in front of the net, forcing mistakes on the forecheck -- while adding occasional offense as well. It was the Beleskey that the Bruins needed to see in camp amid a highly competitive group of forwards, and he’s satisfied with the way things played out now that the regular season is around the corner.

It would be a huge benefit to the B's if he can get back to the guy that parlayed his hard-nosed approach into 15 goals and 37 points in 80 games during his first season in Boston.

“It’s a good start. It’s what I came back to do,” said Beleskey of his promising showing in camp. “Now it’s the real thing and time to get going. I don’t know how to explain it, but you just feel better. You feel that work you put in, and you feel faster getting to pucks and taking advantage of opportunities.

“It’s good to see the work pay off, but it’s just the beginning. I’m excited to be where we’re at and now it’s just time to get going.”

The one big question is where he'll will fit into the mix up front. Beleskey could be a quick fix for a top-6 left wing spot if Jake DeBrusk struggles out of the gate with David Krejci, but it looks like he’s destined to start on the bottom-6 until he shows that his offensive game is all the way back. Beleskey skated at left wing on the third line with Ryan Spooner and David Backes at Tuesday’s practice ahead of opening night, and that’s the kind of spot where he’s likely to begin the season.

No matter where he’s positioned to start the season, the good news is that the Beleskey of two years ago looks to be back with his pounding physicality, high energy and offense that’s a little better than you might expect.


Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday


Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

BRIGHTON -- Tuukka Rask is quickly making his way through the concussion protocol and may return to action this weekend.

The Bruins netminder skated with the other injured players ahead of Monday’s main team practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and is on track to rejoin the team at regular practice on Tuesday barring any setbacks in his concussion recovery. That would leave Rask with just a couple of games missed after getting trucked by Anders Bjork at practice last week, and it would give the Bruins back their No. 1 goaltender after Anton Khudobin let in five goals vs. the Sabres on Thursday night.

“He’s in the protocol and progressing well,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’ll probably join us [on Tuesday] for the next step if there are no ill effects from today. That’s a positive. If there are no setbacks, I think Saturday is a more realistic [timetable for a return].”

The hope would be that Rask could start elevating his game when he does return, and play better than the goalie that’s posted the 1-3-0 record, 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage thus far this season. But first things first with the recovery to his first career concussion as an NHL goalie, and the set of hurdles that must be passed before Rask is again allowed to jump back into game action as early as this weekend.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Bruins practice with Rask, David Krejci and Noel Acciari all skating prior to practice, Patrice Bergeron staying off ice with a maintenance day and Kevan Miller skating in main practice with a maroon, no-contact jersey:




Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain


Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

BRIGHTON -- Injuries, and some really tough losses, have put a bit of a damper on the start to the Bruins season. But there've also been a couple of unquestioned bright spots.

And one of them is Tim Schaller, who's been a strong, consistent performer in the first couple of weeks of the season. The New Hampshire native -- and lifelong Bruins fan -- was penciled in as a fourth-line winger throughout most of training camp, but he’s played everywhere as injuries have ravaged the B's roster.

The high point was probably centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak (and notching an assist) in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Sabres, and filling in for a late-scratched David Krejci with a very different set of skills. Certainly he’s been a standout for the Bruins with his physicality, including stepping up and fighting man mountain Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson's nasty boarding hit on Frank Vatrano last week, and he’s also kicked in a couple of goals and three points in seven games thus far this season.

“It’s a reactionary thing, and that’s just in a person,” said Bruce Cassidy of fighting Gudbranson. “It’s a character thing because you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Good for Timmy. That earns a lot of street cred not only in your own locker room, but the other teams notice it. too.

"We know with the goals that he can obviously chip in [offensively] and he’s doing a great job for what we’re asking him to do. He’s probably going to take ownership if he’s out there with some young guys on a line, and if he can be a leader and get that line playing the right way every night that is very valuable to us.”

Schaller’s game to this point is a continuation of what he showed in his first season with the Bruins last year, when the 26-year-old posted 7 goals and 14 points in 59 games while becoming a staple in Boston’s bottom-6 group. He’s once again shown pretty good straight-ahead speed for a big man, and a willingness to take his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame straight to the net.

“I’ve been moving well and I’ve got the two goals, so personally I’m happy [with my game],” said Schaller. “Hopefully others can feed off what I’m trying to do out there, and we get a more well-balanced game [as a team]. I had a good season last year, and what was really good was that I knew that I had more to give. That’s what I’m trying to do this season.

“I can obviously produce more. I had a good start to last season and then I kind of fell off a little bit. So hopefully I can be a little more consistent for this entire year.”

That would be a very good thing for a Bruins team that can use him in a bottom-6 energy role when its roster is healthy, and will fully utilize his versatility in times of injuries and adversity.