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Brandon Carlo contract locks things up for the Bruins' back end

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Brandon Carlo contract locks things up for the Bruins' back end

What was once a competitive-looking training camp for Bruins defensemen now becomes a lot less uncertain after the last 48 hours.

Both Charlie McAvoy (three years at $4.9 million per season) and Brandon Carlo (two years at $2.85 million per season) are now signed for the next few years with the Bruins still shimmying under the salary cap ceiling.

While some may see Carlo’s deal as a big-time bargain, the comparable contracts to him (Darnell Nurse at $3.2 million per season and Josh Morrissey at $3.15 million per season both on two-year deals) made this two-year deal a fait accompli once the Bruins had something in place with the 21-year-old McAvoy.

On its face, this means that Don Sweeney has managed to do what many thought would be much more difficult this summer: Fitting Carlo and McAvoy under the cap without moving any big contracts to make room for all the returning players. It also means the Bruins can move on to negotiations with Torey Krug, who will be looking for a substantial raise from the final year of a deal that’s paying him $5.25 million per season.

From a practical standpoint on the ice, the Bruins now have a deep, multi-faceted defensemen corps that doesn’t leave any room on the NHL roster for youngsters like Jakub Zboril or Urho Vaakanainen, or potential veteran tryout campers like Florida’s Alex Petrovic. Most teams would be in a tough spot with veteran D-men like Kevan Miller (fractured kneecap) and John Moore (shoulder surgery) out for at least the first month of the season, but the Bruins will be coming back with the entire group that was playing as they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Here’s how the pairings are likely to look to start the season:

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

 

Certainly it would appear that Steve Kampfer is the only player with competition for the seventh D-men spot to start the season. Otherwise, the writing is on the wall with camp only a couple of days old and any possible drama erased with both McAvoy and Carlo inking new deals over the last few days.

The only point of interest at this point for Boston’s back-enders? It remains to be seen just how good McAvoy and Carlo can be over the next couple of seasons after signing fair, market contracts that may be less than many expected.

If McAvoy turns into the No. 1 defenseman he’s tracking toward and Carlo can build some offense to go with his shutdown skills, the Bruins are going to be paying much, much more for these players the next time at the negotiating table. But then again many of the current high-priced Bruins players will be off the roster at that point, and the Bruins will gladly pay for younger players that outperform their shiny, brand new deals.

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Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 5-1 win over the Devils

Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 5-1 win over the Devils

GOLD STAR: Matt Grzelcyk kicked off the scoring for the Bruins and finished with the first two-goal game of his NHL career in the win over the Devils. Grzelcyk had the two goals along with a plus-2 rating in 19:16 of ice time while showing exactly what he can do offensively with Torey Krug out of the lineup. The second score in the third period was a highlight-reel goal as he faked out PK Subban at the offensive blue line and then rocketed a shot under the crossbar past Mackenzie Blackwood to ice things for the Black and Gold. Grzelcyk finished with three shots on net, a hit and a blocked shot in the biggest offensive game of his career.

BLACK EYE: PK Subban looked bad against the B's. Subban finished with a minus-2, took a lazy tripping penalty in the third period that led to David Pastrnak’s insurance power-play goal and then got completely posterized by Grzelcyk on a third-period goal where he dangled right around the New Jersey D-man. Subban didn’t do much of anything at the offensive end either aside from one shot in the slot area that Tuukka Rask made a pretty routine save on. It all underscores just how much Subban’s skills have apparently eroded due to either age or injuries because he sure isn’t the same guy that he was in his younger years in Montreal.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a solid 2-1 lead after the first 40 minutes, but they had given up a goal late in the second period that ate away at their momentum a little bit. So, it was important for them to come out guns blazing in the third and that is exactly what they did while blowing the Devils out of the water. The Bruins scored three goals and took advantage of some sloppy mistakes from the Devils to pull away in a game that felt a lot closer than it ultimately ended up being on the scoreboard. Certainly, seeing the B’s pull away from teams in the third is a much more welcome sight than the third-period implosion we saw against Florida a week ago.  

HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci was excellent sliding in as the top center between Brad Marchand and Pastrnak, just as he was last season when Patrice Bergeron also missed time with an injury. Krejci got the secondary assist with a great backhanded pass on Grzelcyk’s first-period goal and then he set up Pastrnak for his first-period score as well. Krejci finished with a couple of assists, a plus-3 rating and 7-for-14 on face-offs in 15:49 of ice time. Krejci is again showing exactly what he could do if he was ever centered between a pair of elite offensive wingers instead of the carousel of right wings the Bruins have provided him the past couple seasons.

BY THE NUMBERS: 19 – the number of goals for Pastrnak this season after another two-goal outburst. That leads the NHL. There have only been seven games this season for the Bruins where he hasn’t scored a goal.  

QUOTE TO NOTE:  “I don’t think we made one mistake in the third [period]. We just played winning hockey in the third.” –David Pastrnak, to NESN on the B’s pulling away from the Devils in the final 20 minutes.

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Is it time to start getting worried about Bergeron's lower body injury?

Is it time to start getting worried about Bergeron's lower body injury?

Is it time to get nervous about Patrice Bergeron if you’re a Bruins fan?

Maybe so.

Bergeron, 35, took the ice at the Prudential Center in New Jersey for the Tuesday morning skate ahead of the game against the New Jersey Devils and he was declared a game-time decision. Bruce Cassidy said that Bergeron would take the warm-up and then decide his availability.

"He felt a lot better today, but I don’t want to confirm it just yet,” Bruce Cassidy said to reporters in New Jersey after the morning skate. Cassidy was then asked if they might be a little careful about playing Bergeron in back-to-back situations when he does come back. “It’ll be his call. He’s been around a long time. He knows his body better than we do, so we’ll talk about it. Obviously, I wouldn’t say it automatically that we would do it, but it’s something we’d have to consider so that he’s as healthy as possible going forward.

“We talked about that this summer. We talked about that with a few players because of the long playoff run last year. We may have to look into that.”

Instead, Bergeron missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury suffered last weekend and all are left to wonder if it’s for precautionary reasons against a bottom-feeder New Jersey team, or if it’s because the old groin problems have cropped up for him again. The mere fact that Bergeron missed the warm-up after the Bruins expected him to take it this morning, is a warning sign that the injury didn't respond as they were hoping it would. 

Certainly, a “load management” type plan with Bergeron would be smart as the B's hope to have him at his level best when it matters most down the stretch and into the playoffs, where last spring the groin issues dogged him in the  Stanley Cup Final.

The concern is that Bergeron could possibly again be dealing with the groin issue that over the summer needed a PRP (blood-platelet plasma) injection to get him healthy for training camp. If that is indeed the case, and it appeared to be when he tweaked his lower body while getting hauled down on an offensive zone face-off on a second-period power play in Toronto, then this might be something the Bruins and Bergeron will have to manage going forward.

That seemingly is the only thing that could slow down the Bruins, who sit atop the Atlantic Division at 13-3-5, and a Perfection Line that’s been routinely dominating opponents the first month-plus of the season.

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