Bruins

Self-made Peverley earns his spot with B's

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Self-made Peverley earns his spot with B's

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON Its been a long road of perseverance and patience for Rich Peverley, but its all paid off in the end.

The 29-year-old picture of versatility has worked his way up as an undrafted free agent out of St. Lawrence University, and seemed a long way from yesterdays announcement when he potted 30 goals for the South Carolina Stingrays during the 2004-05 hockey season fresh out of college.

For 99 percent of hockey players toiling in the coast league as undrafted hockey commodities with no draft ties to an NHL organization, thats usually as far as it goes.

For 30 percent of those players that move on to the AHL and get within a single step of their NHL dream, thats the end of the line in a road less traveled by elite hockey prospects.

Its something in the neighborhood of 5-10 percent of players if even that much that manage to go from being East Coast Hockey League roster filler to the NHL hockey pinnacle, and it usually takes one thing beyond anything else to get there: the unsinkable belief that you belong.

The shifty forward needed to gain strength and learn how to play with the right amount of grime in his game, but he always believed hed made it.

Peverley did all of that while working his way up from the bottom, and going from minor league Stingray to Stanley Cup champion.

While a player that skipped the minor league experience altogether like Blake Wheeler through no fault of his own never really learned how to will himself to success or develop parts of his game beyond the shiny skill set -- Peverley needed to learn how survive in some rough-and-tumble places before knocking the NHL door down with the Predators and Thrashers.

So it was a pretty sweet day for Peverley on Tuesday as he inked a three-year deal with the Bruins for 9.75 million that will keep him for the foreseeable future. A hockey source indicated that Peverley will get 3 million next season, and 3.75 million in both2012-13 and 2013-14 for the B's. The Bs inked Peverley before restricted free agents like David Krejci and Tuukka Rask, and Peter Chiarelli said it was the culmination of several weeks worth of negotiating.

The competition level within the dressing room is so high pushing for minutes and for spots in the lineup, said Peverley. Hockey is something I really take seriously, and its a game that I love. Im a big sports nut to begin with, so Ive felt very lucky to be here since getting traded to the Bruins last spring.

Other places Ive played havent really even been sports towns like Boston is, so I truly appreciate it here. This is the place I wanted to be. There are some great people here and I wanted to be a part of it.

Chiarelli remembers Peverley as far back as his college hockey days, but he permanently plopped on the Bs radar after exceeding 20 goals and 50 points for the Thrashers while continuing to get his nose dirty. The offensive performance combined with his fearless style he doesnt win every puck battle, but hell engage regardless makes him a player Chiarelli has always noticed.

He's a player we've always coveted and we were fortunate to get him last year," Chiarelli said. "He's just one of the guys we thought could fit into our top seven or top six. Maybe we've waited a little bit longer in signing some guys that are potential UFAs, but we just decided to move forward with Rich. He's got speed, a good shot, he's still relatively young in the grander scheme and he's just a guy we wanted to have in our mixfor the next four years.

Peverley doesn't quite have the Tim Thomas story, but he's really worked his way up. He signed as an unrestricted free agent that was never drafted and worked his way through the Coast (East Coast Hockey League). I admire thatI admire that in him. I think I said that when we acquired him. I know he likes the town, he likes the organization. He mentioned that his wife likes it in Boston also so that played a part in him signing.

While Peverley honed his craft with the Predators and Thrashers before nearly washing out of the NHL after Nashville cut ties with him, he arrived in Boston as the Swiss Army Knife forwards. He came with a price tag as the Bruins had to give up Mark Stuart and Wheeler to acquire him, but his teammates know they never capture the Cup without his contributions.

Its easier to tick off what Peverley cant do than his varied skills: He has great skating wheels, can finish with an accurate shot and quick release, can make the extra pass, kill penalties, provide a viable alternative on the power play and give quality face-off coverage along with a pretty healthy amount of grit. Hes fond a solid home as the replacement for Mark Recchi along the right wing, and the two-goal performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning seems like the tip of the iceberg for Peverley.

He deserves it, he was a huge part of us winning and he really worked hart for it," Patrice Bergeron said. "Its unbelievable that now hes getting recognized all of a sudden. I always thought he was a great player when we played against them in Atlanta. Hes a hard worker, hes tough on draws, able to play in at every position and every line and always fit in.

Theres no guarantee Peverley will skate with Bergeron and Brad Marchand for the rest of the season, but hes already proven early on that their trio combined could vie for top line status with the Black and Gold.

Given Peverleys solid makeup and varied skills, he should be in the mix for that kind of role for the rest of his soon-to-be-long career lending his speed, shot and experienced savvy to the Bruins.

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

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

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Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

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Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
 
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
 
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
 
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
 
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
 
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
 
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.