Bruins

Notes: Lucic notches an assist and a fight

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Notes: Lucic notches an assist and a fight

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Milan Lucic has done it twice in his career, but he couldnt quitecome up with the third period game-winning goal to cap off the Gordie Howe hat trick against the Maple Leafs.

Instead Lucic had to settle for an assist and four shots on net that allowed the power forward to become only the 10th NHL player in the last six years to rack up 30 goals, 30 assists and 100 penalty minutes in he same season. The 30th helper was a beauty that set up David Krejci on a flawless break out from the defensive zone in the second period, and perfectly displayed the kind of skill Lucic can flash in any individual hockey play.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Lucic didnt stop there, however, and instead alsogot into the fight game in the second period when it was clear liberties were being taken by Toronto. The fight turned into a perfect showdown between NHL heavyweights in Lucic and Toronto tough guyJay Rosehill. The bout ended in a draw with both players throwing some thunderous right hands, and left Rosehill red-faced and yelling to himself as he skated to the penalty box.

It was a true team effort that got everyone involved while watching heavy punches being tossed by Lucic and Rosehill, and the fact both players were right back at it measuring up like boxersfollowing a brief interlude made it one of the best fights of the season. Bruins coach Claude Julien even appreciated the timing of the bout with regular Bs enforcer Shawn Thornton out with roughly 40 stitches on his forehead.

It was a good time in the game and kind of second period got us going a little bit, said Julien. And I think there was lot of little things going on that werent getting taken care of and I think that kind of did the job for both teams.

While its true there werent any knockdown punches landed -- both players left for the box in relatively good shape -- there were after effects for both players. Lucic didnt seem any worse for the wear when he spoke to a group of reporters after the game, but he did need a stitch job on his ripped Bruins sweater following the bout.

We can take some positives out of this game. We can look over some stuff that we need to work on, said Lucic. But definitely its not going to be easy come Saturday afternoon. Atlanta, you never know what youre going to get from them. Theyve been good against us this year. Theyve beat us twice and it seems like every game now heading into the end of the year is a tough battle.Michael Ryder managed only one official shot on net, and cooled off in the latter moments of the game after coming out strong in the game's opening minutes. Ryder hit a post and missed high when he was curiouslytapped by Claude Julien during the shootout, but alsomade some pretty soft plays in the offensive zone when he couldn't maintain possession once the defensive pressure caught up with him.That doesnt speak very well for a playerlike Ryder that really needs to start showing something more than the four shots in five game stretch that the right wing finds himself currently mired in.He didnt play much in the first period because of everything that was going on, said Julien. But when he was in there he had some chances. He hit the post and reacted well. Tyler Seguin missed on his shootout chance in Thursday nights 4-3 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs. He's 4-for-8 this season once the post-overtime shooting gallery gets going, but didnt seem to be dwelling on it after the game. Thats a good thing because the Bruins are scuffling wildly in any games going beyond regulation to the overtimeshootout with a 3-11 record in OT and shootouts.

Every other Bruins shooter currently on the roster aside from Seguin is 1-for-14 in shootouts this year, and its pretty clear that Julien is at his frustration point with the NHL'sshootout gimmick to decide on the two points.

I think we have to be honest here. We dont have a great shootout team. Weve talked to our goaltenders, weve talked around its not our strength. And, it is what it is, said Julien. It doesnt matter. We practice it, we use all kinds of players.

Were trying and fortunately some teams are better than others when it comes to that. If its one thing that were not a real great team at, its shootouts. But, playoffs dont have shootouts, so we can live with it.

Zdeno Chara left the bench twice during the second period and wasnt with the team on the bench to start the third period, but the towering Bs defenseman made it back for the majority of the third period without incident. Chara didnt seem to be slowed by anything when he returned to the ice, and Claude Julien wasnt took keen on supplying any info on whatever troubled the Captain. Usually that kind of incident within a game indicates an equipment issue or stomach problems for a hockey player, but the B's coach wasn't going to elaborate.

Theres nothing to report, said Julien when asked about Charas situation. There is nothing to be concerned about, as far as his situation.

Steve Kampfer returned to the lineup after a hiatus for a couple of weeks, and looked pretty comfortable after being out of game action. The rookie defenseman took a hooking penalty in the first period that was borderline, and then was the victim of a really questionable penalty shot called in overtime as he defended a Mikhail Grabovski shot. He also had four shots on net and a plus-1 in 13:57 of ice time in his first game back, and Juliensaid he was no better or worse than any other Bruins player out on the ice.You just come in and you try to keep things simple. Thats what I tried to do tonight. You know, play my game, play it simple and help these guys get a couple points, said Kampfer. But at the same time, we have a great group of guys when we practice so I think anybody can play at any time. Youre helping these guys out and youre getting back in the lineup and youre trying to accomplish the same goals they are.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins shuffling the deck looking for answers up front

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Bruins shuffling the deck looking for answers up front

BRIGHTON, Mass – It would appear that Bruce Cassidy is ready to start shuffling the deck up front after a slow start to the season.

With the Bruins ranking among the league’s worst both offensively and defensively just a handful of games into the season, they are both introducing a few new forwards to the mix while hoping for full health to a couple of other ones. 

First off, the Bruins appear that they might get David Backes back for Thursday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks after his bout with diverticulitis, supplying some badly needed size, strength and net-front tenacity on the wing. Patrice Bergeron (lower body) might not be too far behind after going through a full practice wearing a no-contact jersey. The return of No. 37 would help in any number of different areas once he’s good to go, and would have a cascade effect on the rest of the forwards.  

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Getting both players back in short order would give the Bruins a toughness around the net that was certainly missing against Malcolm Subban and the Golden Knights, and hasn’t been there consistently this season with No. 37 and No. 42 out of commission.

“[Bergeron] is progressing. In the past we’ve ruled him out ahead of time, but we’re not ruling him out for [Thursday vs. the Canucks]. Backes looks closer to being ready to play,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Some of the games that have gotten away from us, those guys are glue guys that really add that element to us to keep us on the rails without the game getting away. Some nights you just need their offense or some hard defending, and you miss their leadership obviously. They’re all good players, but most of them you know they’re bringing that North/South game and a few good shifts here or there could have got us back on track.

“[Bergeron] is underrated in his ability to get to the front of the net especially with Marchand and Pastrnak on his wings. So we miss that part of it: Getting there on time, making plays and finishing off plays. Backes is just a big body there and you certainly miss that part of it. With Vegas the other night that was one of the biggest things we were missing was getting second chances, shooting for second chances, hitting the net and getting those rebound chances against a team that was harder to get inside on.

A few moves on Wednesday might also suggest some on-the-fly changes with some forwards that haven’t been working out with the Black and Gold. Ryan Spooner suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday night against Vegas, and it sounds like it might not be a short-term injury for the center with just one point in his first five games. Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano also haven’t produced much in the first couple of weeks of the season, and could be in danger of losing roster spots to Providence call-ups Kenny Agostino and Peter Cehlarik.  

Both players were late cuts from training camp and were showing the blend of size, strength, skill, experience and production that Boston needs more of as they search for answers among their forward group. Beleskey, Spooner and Vatrano have combined for one point, a minus-6 rating and just 12 shots on net in a combined 14 games this season, so clearly that is one of the first spots to look for upgrading the roster from within.

“[A tryout period] is a good way to put it. We talked about that in training camp when we had a long look at guys, but not Cehlarik because he didn’t get a chance to play [because of shoulder surgery]. He obviously piqued our interest last year and did a lot of good things for us,” said Cassidy, who has been in a state of constant flux putting forward lines together due to injury and ineffectiveness. “We just went in a different direction at the trade deadline, but we brought him up to give him a look. We have a decision tomorrow and I’m not going to say whether [Cehlarik] is in or out.

“He’s really played well in Providence, and we just thought he might be able to help us. Some of it may depend on the health of the other guys as far as who’s in and who’s out. If both Cehlarik and Agostino are both in the lineup there’s a chance [they might play together]. They were with [Riley] Nash today in the middle, and he has some of the same qualities as JFK down in Providence. But until we sort through who’s in for tomorrow, and that starts at the top with Bergeron and Backes, then stuff will fall into place for all of them.”

Depending on how Don Sweeney plays with his 23-roster spots, perhaps the time has come to put one of those players on waivers for a trip to the AHL. Simply based on merit it would be Vatrano and the total nothingness he’s shown in his first four games this season, but there would also be a legitimate concern they’d lose the 23-year-old Massachusetts native on waivers for nothing.

For their part, players like Agostino and Cehlarik ripped up the AHL while teamed with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in Providence, and were just looking for their chance to carve out a role in Boston. Now they may get their chance based on others not really grasping their opportunity, and they’re ready if that’s the case.

“It’s encouraging for me, but I’m just taking things day-by-day. I’m not looking past anything and I’m looking in the past. I just take things as they come here,” said Agostino, who leads the Bruins two goals and seven points in three games thus far. “This isn’t my first time [up at the NHL], so I’m just going to do whatever I can to make the best impression possible.”

What if Agostino and Cehlarik, a career AHL player and a former third-round pick, can’t make the impact that the Bruins are looking for?

Hopefully by then the Bruins will at least have their top two lines healthy and firing on all cylinders, and can continue to mix and match things in the bottom six until they find a combination of forwards that work. But it may come to a point where the Bruins need to look outside the organization for an impact forward or two, or at least find somebody that can make an impact on the ice rather than will themselves invisible.

Only Beleskey has been at all effective this season as he’s dropped the gloves and played physical at times, and certainly can still be an effective third or fourth liner with the right players skating alongside him. For those reasons along with the massive contract money still owed him, Beleskey should be given every opportunity to succeed in Boston. But one thing is clear at this point: There is too much dead weight on the Bruins roster right now at the forward position, and something needs to be done about it if they hope to pull themselves out of their early-season funk.   

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Bruins lose Ryan Spooner for 4-6 weeks with a groin tear

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Bruins lose Ryan Spooner for 4-6 weeks with a groin tear

The Bruins have absorbed another substantial injury to their forward group with the news that Ryan Spooner will be out 4-6 weeks with a torn groin. According to sources, it was something he was playing with for some time before the right adductor muscle in his groin finally tore in Sunday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

With Spooner out of the Bruins lineup, there will be challenges to both team speed and to a power play unit that the fast-skating center was a key contributor over the last couple of seasons. Sean Kuraly was centering Tim Schaller and David Backes in Spooner’s absence during Wednesday practice, but it remains to be seen how they’ll go about filling the void for the next couple of months.

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“We’re no different than anybody else. We’d like to have our full complement [of players],” said Bruce Cassidy, when addressing the injury situation. “To be healthy and 100 percent in this league is tough, but we’d love to be there.”

Spooner was very clearly slowed by something at the start of the season with just one point and four shots on net in his first five games of the season along with a minus-2 rating, and that’s a tough development for a player like Spooner that relies on his speed and skating for much of his effectiveness at the NHL level. It will be interesting to see if Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson eventually gets a look given his fast start at the AHL Level, and the fact that Spooner is on a one-year deal that may see him playing somewhere other than Boston next season, or perhaps even following this spring’s trade deadline. 

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