Connolly: 'Frustrating the way it's been going'


Connolly: 'Frustrating the way it's been going'

NEW YORK -- It was a bit of a surprise move when Claude Julien opted to take Frank Vatrano out of the lineup against the Rangers on Monday, and instead reinsert the slumping Brett Connolly after one game sitting up in the press box.

After all, the 21-year-old Vatrano had scored a goal in the road win over the Devils and fired off six shots on net in the first two games of the five game road trip for the Bruins. But it looked like Julien’s hunch was going to pay off when Connolly had a scoring chance in the second period that could have given the Bruins some breathing room.

Connolly had snagged a long rebound of a Zach Trotman point blast, and made a nice move to load for a wrist shot that beat a scrambling Henrik Lundqvist as he tried to get back into position. Instead Connolly’s snap shot dinged off the inside of the left post and bounced away from harm much to the dismay of the Bruins right winger.

He was so stunned he put his hands up to his head in a mixture of disbelief, exasperation and frustration while knowing that he’s got one goal in his last 30 games. That’s a stunning one goal scored in his last 83 shots at the net for a player that the Bruins gave up two second-round picks for at last spring’s NHL trade deadline.

It’s a drought that Connolly is keenly aware of, but one he’s trying not to let affect him negatively on the ice.

“It’s obviously frustrating the way it’s been going the last month in terms of scoring,” said Connolly. “But I’ve got to stick with it. It was the right move. It’s just one of those things where it hits the inside of the post. It went where I wanted it to, but it just doesn’t go in.

“It’s when I’m not getting chances, I guess, that is when I need to start worrying. It was a really good look, and it’s unfortunate that it didn’t go in. You’ve just got to stick with it. A lot of this game is mental. I thought our line was pretty solid tonight, and you just need to find a way to get chances and get goals. Right now it’s not happening for me, but if I get chances like that they’re going to go in sooner rather than later, I hope.”

His coach said there’s really no other choice than for Connolly to figure it out, and get some offense going for a player that’s more talented than the 11 goals and 29 points he’s on pace for this season.

“You’ve got to overcome that stuff. It’s as simple as that,” said Julien. “I thought he made a great move, and he made a great shot. It didn’t go in, but if you keep making those kinds of decisions, those kinds of moves…it will go in for you eventually.”

The question for Connolly and the Bruins is when that eventually is going to arrive, and how much longer the scuffling right wing is going to have to wait. 

Bruins' Steven Kampfer opts out of NHL Return to Play over family health concerns

Bruins' Steven Kampfer opts out of NHL Return to Play over family health concerns

The Bruins weren’t expecting any of their core group to opt out of the NHL’s Return to Play plan when it begins with Monday’s start to training camp.

But they did lose one player who likely would have been invited as a depth piece when defenseman Steve Kampfer announced he was opting out of playing this summer over family health concerns.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

The Bruins defenseman was one of a handful of players including Sven Baertschi, Roman Polak and Travis Hamonic who decided not to play in this summer’s postseason while the COVID-19 global pandemic is still hitting North America with full force.

Kampfer made the announcement on his Twitter account on Saturday night as the Bruins released their 33-player roster for training camp that includes 29 skaters and four goaltenders. Here’s the entirety of Kampfer’s statement that centers around a congenital heart defect shared by both his wife and his one-year-old son that could create complications were they to contract COVID-19.

“This was one of the hardest decisions that I’ve ever had to make,” said Kampfer. “We have taken [COVID-19] very seriously. Family will always be my priority.”

Kampfer played in 10 games for Boston this season as a spare defenseman for the first half of the regular season, but had been playing in the AHL with the P-Bruins in the months leading up to the regular season going on pause in mid-March. Kampfer had three goals and nine points in 22 games for Providence after registering a pair of assists in Boston amid sporadic playing time this year.

Last season Kampfer played in 35 games for the Bruins as a seventh D-man and scored an unforgettable goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final while suiting up for three games during the playoffs last spring.

The rest of the Bruins roster for training camp had no surprises with a mix of the group that won the Presidents' Trophy for the 2019-20 season along with prospects like Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, Zach Senyshyn, Trent Frederic and Jakub Zboril who could give the Black and Gold some youthful punch this summer.

Here’s the roster that’s expected to take the ice on Monday when training camp begins for the B’s at Warrior Ice Arena:

Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Anders Bjork, Anton Blidh, Paul Carey, Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Trent Frederic, Ondrej Kase, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, Karson Kuhlman, Par Lindholm, Brad Marchand, Joakim Nordstrom, David Pastrnak, Nick Ritchie, Zach Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka, Chris Wagner

Defensemen: Brandon Carlo, Zdeno Chara, Connor Clifton, Matt Grzelcyk, Torey Krug, Jeremy Lauzon, Charlie McAvoy, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril

Goaltenders: Jaroslav Halak, Max Lagace, Tuukka Rask, Dan Vladar

Stanley Cup odds 2020: Bruins are co-betting favorites after schedule reveal

Stanley Cup odds 2020: Bruins are co-betting favorites after schedule reveal

The Boston Bruins' quest for redemption is back on.

The NHL and NHL Players Association officially ratified a Return to Play plan for the 2019-20 season Friday and unveiled a full schedule for the league's round robin and qualifying series, which will lead into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Boston was the top team in the NHL with 100 points when the league paused in March and will play a round-robin tournament with the other top three teams in the Eastern Conference: the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

So, where do the Bruins stand among the NHL's top contenders for the Cup? According to DraftKings Sportsbook, right at the top -- along with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Here are 12 teams with better than +3000 odds to win the 2020 Stanley Cup at DraftKings Sportsbook following Friday's schedule release:

Boston Bruins: +650
Tampa Bay Lightning: +650
Colorado Avalanche: +800
Vegas Golden Knights: +800
Washington Capitals: +900
Philadelphia Flyers: +1000
St. Louis Blues: +1100
Dallas Stars: +1500
Pittsburgh Penguins: +1600
Edmonton Oilers: +2300
Toronto Maple Leafs: +2900

The Bruins have their work cut out for them in the round robin format, which they'll begin Aug. 2 against the Flyers. Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia all are among the top six championship contenders, with the Lightning neck-and-neck with the Bruins at +650.

The B's are deep, talented and experienced: They boasted the NHL's best goal differential (plus-53) when the league shut down and are led by a core group of veterans -- Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask -- who know Stanley Cup success and failure.

They also have the NHL's goals leader in David Pastrnak and plenty of motivation after losing Game 7 of last year's Stanley Cup Final on home ice to the St. Louis Blues.

If Boston can avenge that loss, it will be the first team since the 2008-09 Penguins win a Cup after losing in the Cup Final the previous season. It appears the oddsmakers like their chances.