Bruins

Bruins frustrated 'but not discouraged' by losing streak

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Bruins frustrated 'but not discouraged' by losing streak

BOSTON – The Bruins are officially hitting their first really rough patch of the season where massive injuries and a youthful lineup are beginning to take their toll. 

The Bruins scrapped for only one goal and couldn’t overcome several execution mistakes in the defensive zone en route to a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden that completed a home-and-home Atlantic Division sweep. The struggling Black and Gold have lost three in a row for the first time all season, and have lost six of their last eight games while reality appears to be setting in with a woefully undermanned group of players.  

“We played a great game [on Saturday night], but you know just not good enough. [You] gotta dig deeper and find some ways to get some points,” said Tuukka Rask. “But obviously we haven’t been out-worked or out-battled. That’s not the case and that’s a positive, so we just gotta find a way to get some points.”

The Bruins actually outshot the Leafs by a 39-25 margin during the game and showed pretty good energy despite it being the second night of back-to-back games, but a couple of Brandon Carlo miscues and an 0-for-4 on the power play really conspired to blow up the Bruins. Now the Bruins stand in 14th place among 16 teams in the Eastern Conference, and are four points out of a playoff spot with less than two weeks until Thanksgiving. 

So the Bruins have to hope they don’t lose any more ground during a West Coast trip through California that hasn’t been too kind to them over the last handful of seasons. The bad news is that it’s going to be a challenge against some strong teams all the way across the country, but at least they’re not Eastern Conference teams that have saddled the Bruins with an 0-3-3 record in six tries against them this season. 

The three losses in a row have the Bruins frustrated at this point with a lineup that’s missing David Krejci, David Backes, Ryan Spooner and Adam McQuaid among others, and one that has also been at the mercy of a few inconsistent young players to this point as well. The Bruins have been able to stay afloat to this point to the credit of their core group and the hard-working Bruins coaching staff, but that could change if the B’s aren’t mindful of the situation. 

“You need points. [Friday] night we were a minute away, and we just couldn’t close. Then tonight I thought we were right there for most of the night. Just, again, around the net they were better than us. So we’re frustrated, but not…we’re not discouraged,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’re playing hard, just you go through these lulls where you need to be a little bit better.

“If you’re not then it seems to go against you. So if you continue to play hard, things will go your way and that’s the mindset we need to have out West because we’re playing good teams out [on the ice]. We can’t start feeling sorry for ourselves because it’s not going our way – and I don’t think we will. We’ve got good character and I think the guys will keep playing hard.”

The good news to this point is that the Bruins have continued to play hard despite the adversity coming their way, and the results have allowed them to do just that. It remains to be seen how much that intrepid, unbending attitude is going to stick with the Bruins if things continue to turn away from the hockey club as the season unfolds. 

Bruins' young guns firing right now in camp, but can they keep it up?

Bruins' young guns firing right now in camp, but can they keep it up?

BRIGHTON – It’s obviously still early in Bruins training camp and the two separate groups haven’t even practiced together yet thanks to the week-plus trip to China, but a theme is most definitely developing for the Black and Gold.

Similar to training camp a year ago, the youthful wave of Bruins prospects are taking their preseason by storm in the very best way possible. A third-round pick just a couple of months ago, 18-year-old Jakub Lauko has two goals in as many games and has shown that he may indeed be a first round talent that was snagged a couple of rounds later.

“I’m never nervous, so I think it’s a good thing for me that I’m never nervous,” said Lauko, after suiting up for his first NHL preseason game for the Bruins. “So, yeah, [it was] just fun.”

There's a bevy of B’s young guns out there having “fun” right now.  

Former BU center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is one of a trio of young prospects vying for the third line center spot in Boston, and the Swedish pivot currently leads all Bruins players in preseason scoring with three points in two games. JFK has shown the strong two-way abilities that he’s always been touted for, and his passing skill has been on display in setting up fellow youngsters like Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Donato around the net. Speaking of Donato and DeBrusk, each of those young wingers earmarked for the NHL roster has a couple of counts in two preseason appearances as well.

Zach Senyshyn may have come into camp slightly under the radar after a so-so debut season in Providence last season, but he deposited a couple of goals in Tuesday night’s preseason win over the Capitals in Washington.

Trent Frederic scored a goal in the first preseason game against the Calgary Flames in China, and has teamed with David Backes for a big, strong and physical crash and bang line to this point in the preseason as well. Jack Studnicka, Cameron Hughes and Axel Andersson have all cracked the score sheet as well, and big winger Peter Cehlarik had two assists during the two China games vs. Calgary as well.

So in a camp where a couple of young players could come away with NHL jobs if their preseason performances are up to snuff, the Black and Gold young guns have been that and then some to this point.

That’s great news for a Bruins team that’s become accustomed to young players breaking through over the last few years, but the bad news for all these talented youngsters is that it’s going to get tougher from here on out. With the China contingent and the Boston-bound B’s crew set to be reunited at the end of this week, the training camp competitiveness is about to ramp up a few notches. There’s also the simple fact that things get quicker, more physical and more intense as the preseason goes along, and the veteran players began to really fight for their spots.

It’s the natural rhythm of training camp, and it’s about to become a little more eye-opening for a kiddie corps that’s been great thus far in B’s camp.

“Every year players coming into training camp and whether you’re a third-year player, second-year player, there’s always competition and there’s always somebody pushing from underneath [the NHL level], or pushing on a [camp tryout],” said Sacco. “Every team has young players that are hoping to push through and leave their mark to get their opportunity to play in the NHL.

“Once you see more players with NHL experience start getting into the lineups, it becomes a little bit more of a challenge for those young players to maintain that level that they had early on in the preseason. The ones that do, then you quite frankly start looking at them more and giving them a longer look.”

That will be the million dollar question for each of these young guys. There are plenty of cautionary tales of guys that flashed early in Bruins training camps in the past, but then couldn’t maintain that performance once the lineups got a little closer to NHL ready toward the end of the preseason. But there are also players, like Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, on the current roster that just kept producing and performing as young talents that played their way into Boston’s NHL plans earlier than anybody could have projected when they were first drafted.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s another one of those guys in this Bruins training camp with so many of them off to a strong and promising start. 

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Jakub Lauko banged up in Bruins practice after strong start

Jakub Lauko banged up in Bruins practice after strong start

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins may have dinged up the brand new sports car that they just zoomed out of the show room.

Standout rookie winger Jakub Lauko had a collision with Noel Acciari during drills in the second session of Thursday’s camp practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and got “banged up” according to Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. The 18-year-old didn’t return to the practice session on Thursday and is currently being evaluated by the Bruins medical staff in a set of events that doesn’t look all too encouraging.

“He got banged up in one of the drills in the second half there, so he’s being evaluated as we speak now and we’ll know more later,” said Sacco.

It could be a “Welcome to the NHL” moment for Lauko colliding with the rock-solid Acciari as a friendly fire incident in practice, and the hope is obviously that it doesn’t hinder the momentum that the third round pick has already built in training camp. Lauko has two goals in two games and has shown blazing skating speed, an ability to finish around the net, tenacity and a bit of an edge to his game that has him playing much older than his teenage years would initially indicate.

With the rest of Boston’s China contingent coming back to camp at the end of this week, the rest of camp would have been a great chance to show if Lauko is nearing NHL readiness or if he’s merely a young guy flashing his skill at the start of the preseason.  

In other injury news, Torey Krug and Acciari returned to taking contact at training camp and remain on schedule to get into some preseason games toward the end of camp. Anders Bjork is still being held out of contact in camp practices, and both Sean Kuraly (lower body) and Ryan Fitzgerald (lower body) are missing from practice after suffering injuries in preseason games. Patrice Bergeron (back spasms/groin surgery) has yet to make an appearance in training camp this date, but still has a couple of weeks to get ready for the season. 

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