Bruins

Auston Matthews impressed with Frank Vatrano's game

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Auston Matthews impressed with Frank Vatrano's game

BUFFALO – They spent just a couple of weeks together playing together at the IIHF World Championships in Russia last month, but that’s all the time that was needed for consensus No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews to come away impressed with Bruins sharpshooter Frank Vatrano.

The 18-year-old Matthews and the 22-year-old Vatrano played on the same forward line together intermittently for Team USA through the international tournament, and even teamed up on a couple of goals while helping lead a young, undermanned group of Americans to a fourth overall finish in the international tourney.

It was clearly a proper introduction to the NHL-level of professional hockey for Matthews after he played out this past year in Switzerland, and served as a nice showcase for Vatrano to show off his skills shooting the puck as one of the few dangerous offensive players on a largely youthful roster.  

“He’s a great player. He’s got a really good shot,” said an impressed Matthews, who is expected to hear the Maple Leafs call his name three weeks from now at the NHL Draft. “He was a great person too, and a really great teammate. I enjoyed playing with him. He sees the ice pretty well and can skate really fast too. I thought we matched up really well together.

“The World Championships were huge…going up against Canada, Russia, Finland. It was stacked up with a lot of really high quality NHL players, so [it’s good] when you can go up against those guys and really compete. I thought I held my own pretty well, so it definitely gave me a lot of confidence.”

Vatrano finished with three goals and eight points in 10 games, and Matthews led Team USA with six goals and nine points in the 10 games before dropping the Bronze Medal game to Team Russia. 

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter @HacksWithHaggs.

Brad Marchand 'not concerned' about how Bruins have looked in first few games

Brad Marchand 'not concerned' about how Bruins have looked in first few games

The Bruins certainly haven’t impressed anybody out of the gate thus far in dropping both of their games after a five-month layoff due to COVID-19.

They have been outscored 8-2 in losing both their exhibition game vs. the Blue Jackets and their opening round robin game against the Flyers, and there hasn’t been much to write home about it in either game.

David Pastrnak scored on a nice individual play vs. Columbus and Chris Wagner scrapped for a fourth line goal vs. Philly, but the Perfection Line has been quiet while the special teams haven’t been all that good either.

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Both goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak looked rusty between the pipes as well, so most of the team’s strengths during the regular season have been MIA thus far in the Toronto bubble. Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak had one shot on goal apiece until late in the proceedings against the Flyers and were all minus-2 or worse when the game was over, so clearly Boston’s best players left a lot to be desired at both ends of the ice.

Still, don’t count them as concerned with two more round robin games left against Tampa Bay and Washington prior to the real playoff rounds starting next week.

“Instead of trying to make plays out of nothing, we’re going to have to try to get [pucks] in deep a little bit more and wear teams down low while making our plays in deep,” said Marchand. “We do tend to want to be more of a rush line and create opportunities on the rush, but with the ice the way it is right now it’s too tough. We’re just going to have to simplify a little bit. We’re going to get our looks and when they are there and they’re clear, then we can make them. But the ones where we’re trying to force it, we need to be a little smarter and get it in deep.

We’re not concerned about the way the last few games have gone. We’ve been off for six months and it’s going to take a couple of games to get back into it. But when we do, then [the goals] are going to come in bunches.

Certainly Boston’s top players looked passive with the puck, slow to react and hesitant to shoot when given a lane, and that is not very much like any of the Perfection Line guys when they are feeling it offensively.

In the past, there have been plenty of instances when Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak can look downright bad on the ice if there really isn’t much to play for within the game. They looked dreadful for a week or two at the end of the 2018-19 regular season once everything was clinched for the postseason, but then came on like gangbusters in the NHL postseason against the Toronto Maple Leafs and everybody else.

Perhaps they weren’t going full tilt in round robin and exhibition games that have little bearing on the actual playoffs, but that should change with the next couple of round robin tilts against Tampa Bay and Washington. These are teams that the Bruins will absolutely want to make statements against as they edge closer to the traditional four rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So the Bruins' top players aren’t "concerned” right now, but there might be a different answer from them if it’s more of the same Wednesday night against the rival Lightning.  

Steven Stamkos injury: Lightning star won't play vs. Bruins in round robin

Steven Stamkos injury: Lightning star won't play vs. Bruins in round robin

The Boston Bruins need a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday if they're going to earn a high playoff seed from the NHL's round robin, and luckily for the B's, the Bolts will be without their captain and best player.

Lightning center Steven Stamkos won't be in the lineup, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper told reporters Tuesday.


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Stamkos is recovering from a lower-leg injury suffered during July's Phase 2 team workouts. He also did not play in the Lightning's 3-2 shootout win against the Washington Capitals in their round robin opener on Monday.

The loss of Stamkos is a tough blow for the Lightning. He's one of the league's most talented offensive players, and he's also enjoyed plenty of success versus the Bruins. Stamkos has tallied 34 points (23 goals, 11 assists) in 41 career regular season games against the B's. The veteran center also has posted 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 12 career playoff matchups with the Bruins.

Injuries have been an issue for Stamkos throughout the 2019-20 campaign. He missed 25 games during the regular season, but still managed to score 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists).

The Bruins lost their first round robin game 4-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers last Sunday. After playing the Lightning, the B's will conclude their round robin schedule Sunday against the Washington Capitals. The order of the round robin standings will determine these four teams' seeds for the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.