Bruins

Observations from Day 3 of Bruins Development Camp

Observations from Day 3 of Bruins Development Camp

BRIGHTON, Mass – Here are some thoughts and observations from the third day of Bruins Development Camp at Warrior Ice Arena with just one more day to go. The scrimmage should be fun to watch, and instructive as to how all these prospects play in game-type situations.

1)   It’s clear in watching Anders Bjork skating with the rest of the prospects on Saturday that the 20-year-old is light years ahead of the rest of the group in terms of skating, offensive polish and overall presence on the ice. He was skating with purpose and offensive swagger during the drills and the scrimmage, and it set him apart from the rest of the group in the best way possible. He was among the best skaters in prospect camp last season, and he was clearly the most powerful skater among the players taking the ice on Saturday. He certainly looks ready to compete for an NHL roster a couple of months from now, and served as a good example for the young 18 and 19-year-olds of the level they need to get to if they want to be knocking on the NHL door.

2)  Urho Vaakanainen is extremely smooth. He looks like he’s gliding when he skates. He doesn’t panic with the puck on his stick and he’s in very good position with or without the puck in all three zones. He makes a good first pass and he seems to process the game quickly. He was pushed around a little bit by some of the bigger, stronger players over the last couple of days, but that’s to be expected as one of the younger guys on the ice. It also remains to be seen just good he looks once the intensity gets upped a little bit physically and intensity-wise, and what exactly he brings to the playmaking part of the offense in game settings. He looked good during a 4-on-4 scrimmage setting on Saturday, and will be pushed further if the Bruins go for a little 3-on-3 scrimmage on Sunday to finish off camp.

3)  Trent Frederic gives off a “future leader” vibe in the dressing room when he’s interacting with his teammates. The 19-year-old is in just his second development camp, but he has the kind of easy manner and good sense of humor that goes a long way toward bringing all corners of the dressing together. You combine the likable personality with the strong work ethic and the accountable, heavy game that he plays on the ice, and Frederic has all of the makings of a hard-nosed future team leader. Perhaps it’s not surprising that said he models himself after David Backes, who has a lot of the same kind of qualities that the Bruins were very interested in bringing back to their NHL dressing room when they signed him last summer.

4)   Oscar Steen isn’t a household name, but he’s had a pretty strong camp as a small, skilled forward out of Sweden that’s going to need to play up-tempo. The 5-foot-9, 192-pounder still hasn’t made a big splash in the elite league in Sweden playing against bigger, stronger and more mature opponents, and it remains to be seen if the sixth-round pick used to select him ends up paying off for the Black and Gold. But he has been one of the better forwards through three days of development camp. That could bode well for what the Bruins are looking for from him moving forward.

5)   Zach Senyshyn is fast, fast and even more fast than can be described conventionally. While the skating speed of Anders Bjork was very noticeable when he joined the group on Saturday, Senyshyn has effectively mixed skating speeds in camp with an impressive burst that he can kick in to create offensive opportunities for himself. It feels pretty apparent that Senyshyn still needs some seasoning at the AHL level to develop his game, build up his toughness and learn how to effectively his size speed/combo to great effect. But you can already see that Senyshyn is going to be very effective paired with a center that can get the puck to him in stride with some time and space, and that’s exactly the kind of finishing guy that David Krejci is on his best days.

6)  Jesse Gabrielle is fun to watch on the ice. He’ll try some higher level stuff than many other of his fellow forwards will not attempt offensively in the development camp setting, and he’s got the skill to finish off some of those plays. But in all fairness to Gabrielle, he is at his best game in a scrimmage-type setting where some of his physical play can impact the tone on the ice. He hasn’t had much of a chance to show that rabble-rousing side of his personality during skating drills and skill exercises with the B’s this week, and that’s something the Bruins are looking forward to simply base it on his playing style similarity to Brad Marchand. Nobody is saying Gabrielle is going to push close to a 40-goal season over the next few seasons just as Marchand did last year, but he should show the Bruins a little agitating taste of what happens when he isn’t on his best behavior during the next training camp game. He also has frosted tips as a hair choice for this week, and that is a strong indication that Gabrielle doesn’t take things too seriously. 

David Krejci Line looks to shoulder their share of Bruins offensive burden

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David Krejci Line looks to shoulder their share of Bruins offensive burden

TORONTO – The Bruins top line totaled up 20 points in the first two games, and the B’s took both of those against the Maple Leafs. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak had zero points in Game 3 on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre, and the Bruins ended up dropping that game to the Leafs. 

So clearly the Bruins’ playoff fate could be strongly tied to the ebbs and flow of their top forward trio, but the hope with the B’s is that the formula won’t be that simple throughout the postseason. A big part of the reason the Bruins gave up a boatload to the New York Rangers in exchange for Rick Nash was to acquire another forward capable of shouldering a scoring load, and turn Boston’s second line into a much more dangerous group. 

All three members of the B’s second line, David Krejci, Rick Nash and Jake DeBrusk, all have goals during the best-of-seven series, but they also came up empty in Game 3 with Krejci and DeBrusk only managing two shots on net between them. They know that they’re capable of more given the offensive talent on the ice, and given that so much defensive attention is being paid to neutralizing Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak rather than them. 

“We had lots of good looks. I missed a couple. We had lots of good looks that just didn’t go in,” said Krejci. “So we need to work extra harder [in Game 4] to bury those chances and have them end up in the back of the net. We need to stick to the game plan and respect the game plan.”

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Nash had five shots on net and some pretty good chances, but the best scoring chance was a DeBrusk dangle and pass to Krejci wide open at the net. It looked like the puck hit a rut on the ice and Krejci was never able to settle it down for a shot despite the nice-looking pass, so that line is left biding their team for another chance to carry the offense. 

“I think that’s the main reason why we’re the second line. We all have attributes that can help this team. It hasn’t really come to the table yet, but I still thought that we generated chances [in Game 3], and I think our whole team did. It just wasn’t bouncing our way,” said DeBrusk. “It’s frustrating, but at the same time you take the positives from it. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to get harder from here on in. Hopefully our top line does their thing, but if not then we’ll be ready to hopefully help out in that category.”

The Bruins top line is ready, willing and able to shoulder the lion’s share of the scoring burden for the Black and Gold, and most nights they’re going to be able to live up to that kind of responsibility. But if the Bruins want to beat the good defensive teams and become a much more difficult team to play against in the postseason, they’re going to need to start getting production from a second line that should be built to play the power, puck possession game in the postseason.

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Patrice Bergeron named Selke Trophy finalist for seventh straight season

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Patrice Bergeron named Selke Trophy finalist for seventh straight season

TORONTO – At some point, they’re going to have to start thinking about re-naming the award after Patrice Bergeron himself.

The Bruins center was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy on Wednesday night for the seventh consecutive season, and is going for his NHL-record fifth trophy for being the best defensive forward in the NHL. Bergeron was named a finalist along with Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. Bergeron finished his 12th NHL season with 30 goals and 33 assists for 63 points with 26 penalty minutes and a plus-21 rating in 64 games.

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He ranked fifth in the league in faceoff win percentage (57.3, min. 1,000 face-offs), 12th in face-offs won (784), third in even strength faceoff win percentage (58.0, min. 500 face-offs won) and first in shorthanded faceoff win percentage (58.3, min. 50 face-offs won). The 32-year-old forward also ranked second overall in the team puck possession metric SAT (shot attempts differential), with a 57.56%, which should make the fancy stat nerds very happy.

Some might argue there other more worthy candidates given that Bergeron missed 18 games due to injury this season, but he was also the center of a line that didn’t give up an even strength goal until January while putting up his customarily excellent stats. That being said, a guy like Aleksander Barkov also deserved plenty of consideration outside the top-3 finalists that all come in with equally strong chances of taking home the award.

Bergeron has won the Selke in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017. If he wins the year's Selke Trophy, he will break the record held by four-time winner and Montreal Canadiens Hall of Famer Bob Gainey. The Selke Award is given annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season, and will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 20.

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