Young B's not ready for prime time in loss to Red Wings


Young B's not ready for prime time in loss to Red Wings

BOSTON – Some of the young B’s upstarts who had played so well earlier in training camp absolutely earned a chance with more of the NHL regulars on Monday night.

For most of them, though, it looked like they’re not quite ready for prime time as the Bruins dropped a 3-1 decision to the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden.

Austin Czarnik, Frank Vatrano and Linus Arnesson were all dropped into positions to succeed skating with established NHL talent in a game where the intensity was quickly ramping toward regular season levels. They were either invisible or -- even worse -- still making mistakes that hurt the club in a fairly lifeless defeat.

It’s a time-honored rite of passage in training camp where young players are given a good, long look should they excel early and can pretty clearly show whether they’re ready, or not, for the big hockey show.

“You see every game that level of play gets picked up, and that’s just the way it goes,” said Chris Kelly. “You kind of get the cream of the crop toward the end of camp. The better, younger guys are sticking around, and the veteran guys are playing more games and starting to find their legs more.

“The play just picks up that much more, and so does the intensity. It’s good. I’m starting to figure out preseason. There’s a reason games are so scrambly early on because you want to get your legs under you, so you’re skating up and down the ice. When the preseason gets going, you’ve got to find that groove to get into the regular season.”

That “groove” was an NHL gear that some of the talented youngsters will still need to work on in Providence.

Both Czarnik and Vatrano were propped up into top-9 roles with the former centering Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak and the latter riding the left wing with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes. They combined for zero shots on net and obviously didn’t create any scoring plays when they were on ice. Vatrano was guilty of running around a bit in the D-zone with Spooner that led to Drew Miller’s first goal for Detroit.

They weren’t bad by any means and even young players are entitled to “off” nights.

But it was noticeable that they were essentially non-factors with the game lineups again close to full of NHL players and the free ice getting more difficult to come by after hopping over the boards. That’s a natural process in the preseason and that’s why Claude Julien said this is the time during the exhibition schedule that’s most valuable to him for evaluating younger players.

“It’s like that every year. I agree with that. I think as you get closer to the end, whether it’s the guys that are still around -- which are obviously the guys that should be around -- but then at the same time you see certain guys separate themselves from others,” said Julien. “We all know that the beginning of training camp you’ve probably got half American league/junior players, and you only have to dress eight veterans.

“So it’s a different lineup as you get closer to the end. There’s no doubt that it give us a better opportunity to evaluate certain guys that are still in the running here.”

Colin Miller once again impressed as the only Bruins D-man who didn’t finish with a negative rating and the 22-year-old created six shot attempts in 21:32 of ice time while setting up Boston’s only goal with his booming shot from the point. But Arnesson stumbled in a chance to show he belonged with the usual seven or eight D-men names associated with the NHL roster and looked like the only ‘D’ out of place in the game. The Swedish defenseman was on ice for both of Detroit’s first two goals, and messed up the D-zone coverage that allowed speedy Tomas Jurco to blow past him for the Wings’ second goal of the second period.  

Instinctively, Arnesson started moving to the left side of the defense after hopping over the boards for a change and Joe Morrow was already covering that side of the ice. So that left a wide open lane for Jurco, and Arnesson took a delayed slashing call while trying to stop the Wings sniper from scoring the eventual goal past a scrambling Tuukka Rask. Arnesson was on ice for the first goal allowed as well and might have set a partial screen on Rask prior to Miller’s wrong-foot shot from the slot, but there were many mistakes in the D-zone by just about all involved that led up to the first shot getting past the B’s goalie.

Arnesson finished with a minus-2 rating and had the lowest ice time (14:10) of any B’s defensemen in the game while appearing destined for more development time at the AHL level. All of the young players know there are jobs on the line headed into this week, so their ability to perform under pressure is most definitely being measured with just two preseason games left until the Bruins roster is finalized.

That pressure has elevated since both Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara went down with injuries, and the young D-men know another spot or two might have just opened up for them.

“There will always be some sort of sense of urgency to be able to prove yourself night in and night out, regardless of how many people are here. Or if somebody gets hurt or not,” said Morrow. “So it’s definitely a good opportunity for me, [and] it’s a good opportunity for everybody else as well when somebody gets hurt. You never want to see someone go down like that, but it definitely does open up different opportunities for different people.”

It’s the normal pattern of the preseason that’s not so unique to the Bruins. Some young players will step up and show they belong toward the end of preseason, and other talented youngsters will need more AHL seasoning. Players like Czarnik, Vatrano and Arnesson got their good, long look on Monday, and the verdict is in: they might have to wait a few weeks, or months, for their next shot at the real thing. 

Hagg Bag: Plenty of suggestions to improve Bruins' offense

Hagg Bag: Plenty of suggestions to improve Bruins' offense

The Bruins are off to a 5-1-1 start to the regular season, and the Perfection Line has accounted for 14 goals in those seven games. The Bruins are coming off a shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning where their power play struck for three special teams goals and they went toe-to-toe with one of their biggest divisional opponents.

Still, there’s also the sneaking feeling that this team isn’t anywhere close to playing its best hockey and that they need more help up front if they’re going to enjoy a diverse offensive attack. Right now, they are relying on their Perfection Line way too much, and that’s where the fans come in with their trade and prospect insertion ideas.

As always the Hagg Bag mailbag is full of real tweets sent to my Twitter account using the #HaggBag hashtag, real messages to my NBC Sports Facebook fan page and real emails from real fans to my email address.

Now, on to the bag:

Dear Haggs,

The Bruins have been trying to find a right winger to play with Krejci it seems like for centuries. With Taylor Hall being an unrestricted FA at the end of this year and no long term deal with NJ in sight for him and with the Devils struggling mightily, NOW IS THE TIME TO POUNCE! The Bruins have a plethora of young players who would fit the Devils young core “rebuild”. Pairing Hall with Krejci and possibly Kuhlman I think would put this team over the top in the East this year. Even if it’s a rental deal for Hall, this is the type of player the Bruins NEED. Would love to hear your thoughts on a deal built around Heinen and Bjork and more for Hall??

Would love to hear your thoughts on this if they can make the cap room work.

Justin Forman

JH: Obviously, the Bruins would and should be interested if Taylor Hall becomes available, just like the rest of the 30 other NHL teams – well, maybe 29 since I don’t Edmonton would be in the running for him either – because he’s a Hart Trophy-level talent. Two seasons ago, he had 39 goals and 93 points and realized the potential that’s always been there since he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Oilers back in 2010.

Unfortunately, the cap gymnastics and asset requirements to get him are just one part of the problem. There’s also the issue that Hall is pretty much a left-wing, left-shot forward on a Bruins team that has plenty of left-wing, left-shot forwards already stocked on the roster. Now, one could make the argument that Jake DeBrusk would be one of the pieces going back to New Jersey in exchange for Hall, and that would create a space for him on the second line teaming in a dynamic pairing with David Krejci.

It's interesting to be sure, but it also still wouldn’t address the Bruins issues on the right wing behind David Pastrnak. The Bruins might even be able to afford Hall after this coming season with dead money (Seidenberg and Hayes buyouts) and a possible David Backes buyout clearing significant cap space, and a real question as to whether 42-year-old Zdeno Chara will be back again next season.

Would a package of DeBrusk, Jakub Zboril and a draft pick be enough to land Hall should the Devils decide they’re not going to be able to re-sign him? Interesting thought, but I think we’re a long, long way from that happening.

Yes or No....(LW)DeBrusk to Vegas for (RW) Tuch. Line you’d create Bjork-Coyle-Tuch #Haggbag

--Mike C (@mcolesr)

JH: Yes. I would do that 100 times over. No offense to DeBrusk, who scored 27 goals last season, but Alex Tuch is 23, 6-foot-4, 200-pounds and is coming off 20 goals and 52 points last season while also playing on the right side. I like DeBrusk as a player, but I also wonder how much better he’s really become the past three seasons. I might start to consider him in trade talks given how many other left-wing-types the Bruins have in their organization. That doesn’t even count that Tuch went to Boston College and the local college hockey thing is a big check in favor of any players in the eyes of Bruins management.

Was at the game – [Mike “Sarge” Riley] is fine but should stop doing Jim Martin’s “wooooo” after announcing Bruins goals. Doesn’t work for the guy

--Mark (@bostoncig)

JH: Dude, the Bruins use a recording of Ric Flair from a past wrestling event at the Garden. They always have. Hang your head and feel shame, Mark.

You have full casting control over the next Spider-man movie and a Bruins player has to appear. Cast someone as a villain or any other character.

--Dave Green (@DavidMGreen)

JH: Great question, Greenie. Man, I wish Claude Julien was still the head coach. He would have been a pretty great Vulture, or even better as a French-Canadian Kingpin. How about Zdeno Chara with a mustache as Kraven the Hunter? I think he’d be pretty believable wearing that African hunting safari get-up. Jake DeBrusk is probably the best Peter Parker candidate on the roster, but I don’t think anybody on the B’s roster gets to be Spider-Man.


Haven’t we been saying this same thing for a few years now? It might be time to take some of these youngsters and move them for a legit 2nd line RW. Eventually you gotta stop saying give the kids a shot when the problem is the same 2-3 years later.

--Bryan Deyermond (@Bryan_BSF)

JH: Yes. I think it might be that time. We’ll see, though. They may be able to make another Marcus Johansson deal at the deadline to get them through another season while giving up a minimal cost. But I do believe they need to bring in another dynamic top-six forward, preferably a right wing, if they want to get over the hump to again be a Stanley Cup Final team the next few years.

They certainly have enough young guys to spare a few in a trade. But I also think they should probably take a look at a healthy Anders Bjork up in Boston before they go the trade route.

#HaggBag How impatient are you getting waiting for The Rise of Skywalker trailer Lucasfilm is supposed to be coming on Monday Night Football?

--Alissa Boops You (@curvymermaid617)

JH: I am very, very impatient. I sense a good feeling in the Force with JJ Abrams in charge of this movie with a chance to undo some of the bad feelings perpetuated among the Star Wars fan base following The Last Jedi. I didn’t hate that movie per se, but there was enough I didn’t like about it that I left wondering what the point of the movie was aside from trying to go in a different direction from so much of the Skywalker saga before it. I just think it was a big misstep. I mean, anybody that thought Princess Leia Poppins was going to be this big emotional scene was truly mistaken.

Hey how many 5v5 goals do they have?? Just saying....Bruins have a 5v5 problem in general

--Rob Petrella (@RobPetrella)

JH: The Bruins have 19 goals this season in seven games. They have scored eight PP goals, so that means the B’s have only 11 5-on-5 goals in seven games and they have only four players besides the Perfection Line that have scored 5-on-5 goals this season. In other words, they are again struggling in even-strength play after being a bottom-third even-strength team last season as well. They need more scoring talent up front if they want to become a better 5-on-5 team and therefore be a better, more well-rounded team come playoff time. It all points toward the Bruins needing an upgrade among their top-six forward group, and it will be interesting to see how Don Sweeney goes about doing it this season.

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Bruins rule David Krejci, Joakim Nordstrom vs. Maple Leafs Saturday

File photo

Bruins rule David Krejci, Joakim Nordstrom vs. Maple Leafs Saturday

BRIGHTON, Mass. — With a big home-and-home series against the Toronto Maple Leafs set for the next couple of days, the Bruins opted to give their veteran core group the day away from the ice on Friday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.

It was a maintenance day for Patrice Bergeron (lower body), Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak after scoring 14 of the last 17 goals for the Bruins over the last six games, and both Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug spent the day off the ice as well. Joakim Nordstrom (upper body) and David Krejci (upper body) were also missing from the Warrior Ice Arena sheet at Friday’s practice — and neither of those players will travel to Toronto for Saturday's game.

“We have Backes as an extra that sat out with Nordstrom being out,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, of the expected replacement in the lineup. “He could slot in there. We may decide to get somebody from Providence if we want a different look down there. [Anders] Bjork has been playing well down there, [Brendan] Gaunce has been playing well down there and [Peter] Cehlarik. Those are the names that I have heard amongst other, so those are potential guys.”

Bjork, of course, has been tearing it up since the start of the season with three goals and six points in five games after being one of the last cuts in Bruins training camp. The Bruins wanted to leave him in the AHL for a spell to regain his offensive mojo and it seems pretty clear that he's done that while deserving another NHL look. 

The Bruins would prefer to keep him on the left side as they've done all season, and that would easy enough if they swung Heinen to the right side as he's done on multiple occasions over the last few seasons. 

While the message wasn’t spelled out by Cassidy following practice, it felt pretty clear given who was on the ice working and who was given a day to rest and recuperate. The Bruins focused on net-drive drills and taking the puck hard to the paint in practice as a reminder for the forwards to simplify their games while looking to produce some much-needed secondary scoring.

Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings based on Friday’s practice with Jaroslav Halak getting the start on Saturday night vs the Leafs:


Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk Charlie Coyle Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen Par Lindholm Brett Ritchie
Chris Wagner Sean Kuraly David Backes


Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Connor Clifton

Cassidy laments lack of secondary scoring vs. Tampa>>>>>

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