Beleskey brings energy to a Bruins team in need of it


Beleskey brings energy to a Bruins team in need of it

BRIGHTON, Mass – It wasn’t a hat trick or a dominant performance at the offensive end of the ice, but Matt Beleskey showed he’s still got some fight to his game when given a chance. 

Beleskey finished with a strong three shots on net and a couple of hits in the Bruins' 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild Monday night at TD Garden, but it was the rugged way he posted those stats that mattered the most to the Black and Gold.


Beleskey brought energy from his very first shift and gave a nice boost to the Bruins after they jumped on the Wild with the early lead. Beleskey and Matthew Dumba looked like they were going to drop the gloves and square off after the veteran Bruins winger started a little static with the big-bodied D-man, but instead rookie Luke Kunin stepped in to fight Beleskey at the last minute. Beleskey dropped Kunin with a couple of big right hands, and then waved his hands up in the air to get the home crowd going as he skated to the penalty box with a big grin on his face.

The sequence allowed the Bruins to keep powering through with the momentum they’d built after a strong start and it gave the Beleskey the hard-nosed, blue-collar impact he’s been looking to make as a bottom-six winger this season.

“I’m definitely feeling better out there. Skating better. It’s confidence and it’s building, so that’s what I’m trying to do,” said Beleskey. “Just keep working, stick to the process and hopefully, you know, hopefully, start getting a couple bounces, but I think when I’m playing defensively sound it’s easier for Butch [Bruce Cassidy] to keep me on the ice.

“You’ve got to have some fun. It’s fun here in the Garden. They get loud, so you know, you

get into the game, and if I can get people out of their seats that’s a good thing.”

Beleskey, 29, doesn’t have any points yet and any kind of offensive breakthrough hasn’t arrived for him nine games into the season. Still, Beleskey is at least flexing some muscle and playing with a little tough-guy swagger with David Backes out of the lineup. Those qualities can’t ever be ignored into a Bruins uniform as long as he can continue to keep up with the ever-increasing speed of the game.

“Matt did a good job all around the ice. He was really solid defensively, you know he’s getting pucks behind [the Minnesota] defenseman and he’s another guy that had missed some games so he wants to prove that he belongs in there every night,” said Bruce Cassidy. “That’s a great attitude for those guys instead of worrying about other stuff, they just went out when their number was called and played and played hard.

“So. good job for Matt [Beleskey] and that’s something that he can do for us. He has that ability, when the abrasive play starts, he can answer the bell.”

Beleskey answered the bell against Minnesota for an undermanned Bruins and the hope is that he can keep right on doing it for the Black and Gold after a very disappointing season last year. 

Morning Skate: Dad's texts and emails reveal enforcer's sad story


Morning Skate: Dad's texts and emails reveal enforcer's sad story

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wishing everybody a safe night before Thanksgiving. Be careful out there, people.

*The New York Times has a very sad story on former NHL enforcer Stephen Peat, as told to the Times through a series of emails and texts from Peat’s dad as he struggles with a number of seemingly concussion-related issues in his post-hockey life.

*There’s nothing better than some Benn on Benn brotherly crime as Jordie Benn lays a hit on Jamie Benn in the Stars vs. Habs game.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Marc Spector has the Edmonton Oilers hitting a new low after they quit in a loss to the St. Louis Blues.

*Duncan Keith said he wants to play until he’s 45 and defy the odds as one of the few that get a chance to play pro hockey for that long.

*Dylan Larkin is flourishing with the Detroit Red Wings as he’s adding more responsibility to his chores in Hockeytown.

*A Happy Thanksgiving to the Boychuks and all the other great people around the NHL, including Matt Beleskey with the Bruins, who take time out of their days to help make sure everybody has a good meal on Turkey Day.

*For something completely different: Excited for my kids that there is going to be more Trolls in their future starting with a Christmas special on Friday.



Bruins won't win Cup with Rask in net, and need to start planning for future

Bruins won't win Cup with Rask in net, and need to start planning for future

One season could be an outlier. Two seasons is a trend. Three seasons is a long-term pattern that doesn’t figure to change.

For the last three seasons Boston’s $7 million man between the pipes, Tuukka Rask, has been more ordinary than extraordinary, and that’s a troubling development. At this point it’s enough to convince this humble hockey writer that the Bruins will never win a Stanley Cup with Rask as their No. 1 goaltender, and that should become a real issue in the next few years as the Bruins build back up to contender status.

Anton Khudobin will make his third straight start Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils, and that makes all the sense in the world: The backup has dramatically outplayed the starter this year. Just compare Khudobin’s NHL-leading .935 save percentage to Rask's pathetic .897, and the fact that the Bruins have pulled points from every single game Khudobin has started.

That’s all short-term stuff, but it's important as the Bruins are desperate for point to stay on the outskirts of the playoff picture. Long term, the B's are aiming toward being a Cup contender in a couple of years, when youngsters like Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo, Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk will be entering their primes, and grizzled, winning veterans like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand will still have something left in the tank.

But what of the goaltending?

Rask, 30, still has an impressive career .922 save percentage, and nobody can take away his Vezina Trophy or his All-Star level seasons. But his save percentages have dropped noticeably: It's a combined .915 in the last two full seasons, and is below .900 now. He’s become predictable in his approach to shooters, consistently dropping to give them high, open targets around the net. And it feels like he’s lost some of the competitive fire he had when he was a milk-crate-tossing prospect in the minor leagues.

The stretches where he gives up soft goals have gotten longer, and -- as is necessary with a changing, aging cast of defensive personnel -- Rask rarely steals games when the Bruins are outplayed. The organization has also come to the determination that he loses effectiveness if he plays more than 55-60 times ia season.

In short, Rask is being paid as a $7 million-a-year franchise goalie, but he's not playing like one. And there's four years beyond this left on the contract.

The Bruins will have to play him and pump up his value if they any hopes of trading him in the future. He'll have to be inserted back in the lineup at some point anyway, because let’s face it: Khudobin and Zane McIntyre aren’t the answers as his replacement. The B's need to draft, sign or trade for Rask’s heir apparent, and pave the way for that goaltender to be in Boston a couple of years from now when they're again ready for a Stanley Cup push.

Rask proved he wasn’t good enough to carry a talented Bruins team over the top when he crumbled at the end of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks, and he’s been spotty, and oft-times unreliable, in big games ever since. It’s time for the Bruins to begin the search process for a goalie that can take them on a Cup run when they’re ready for it.

After nine seasons, Rask has proven he isn’t that guy.