Bruins Roster Projection 2.0: Players on the bubble make strong cases

Bruins Roster Projection 2.0: Players on the bubble make strong cases

With the start to the NHL regular season just a week away, the Bruins' 2-0 preseason win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night was an important final showcase for some of the players on the bubble for the NHL roster.

Players like David Backes, Anders Bjork, Par Lindholm and Jeremy Lauzon knew that potential jobs were on the line, and they performed like it was time to leave everything out on the ice. Backes threw his body around, skated with better legs than he has in the recent past and scored an important insurance goal in the third period on a nifty backhanded shot from the slot. Bjork (an assist, a plus-1 rating, three takeaways and eight shot attempts) was fast and aggressive, buzzing around the net and creating offensive chances on an evening when the Bruins' best players had the night off.

Lauzon was big and physical, and dropped the gloves in the second period with Devils forward Nathan Bastian while showing that he could be playing for another NHL team that isn’t quite so stocked with quality blueliners like the Black and Gold. Lindholm killed penalties and looked solid centering Backes and Bjork as the night’s best line, and looks like he could be a very useful, versatile piece for the Bruins, particularly if David Krejci needs to miss any time at the start of the season.  

For players needing to play well to make Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy’s roster deliberations a little more difficult, they did exactly that. Those final camp cuts, by the way, should be forthcoming on Thursday with the desire for the Bruins to get down to one practice group ahead of this weekend's preseason finale vs. Chicago on Saturday. 

“It’s a good problem. We want good depth. I’m happy with the compete level [on Wednesday night]. We made a few mistakes in the second period, managing the puck, but that’s going to happen. Thought Freddy [Trent Frederic] played hard, and Kuhly [Karson Kuhlman] were better. [David] Backes, [Par] Lindholm had a good game,” said Cassidy. “[Anders] Bjork’s around the puck, that line was excellent. Those guys are all trying to, obviously, they know time’s running out. They were told time was running out, if we’re going to play more of our lineup Saturday. I’m glad they took a good step forward.

“We’ll get down to one group [now] for sure. If we don’t skate tomorrow, then Friday will be pretty much the guys that will play Saturday, maybe a few extras in case [Joakim] Nordstrom and [David] Krejci aren’t ready to go.”

It’s interesting to note that Nordstrom continues to be banged up while recovering from a broken foot suffered at the end of the Stanley Cup Final. That could open up one more space on the NHL roster for opening night if he’s not ready to go, and Bjork might just have done enough to earn a spot based on a strong overall performance in training camp.

Just as well, Backes might get the benefit of the doubt to start the season in the lineup while playing like a motivated, proud player who “got a little sand kicked in his face” last postseason when he was scratched during the Stanley Cup Final. That would leave Lindholm and Ritchie as the scratches to begin the season, and an impressive array of pieces for Cassidy and Co. to begin melding together once the season gets going for real in Dallas on Oct. 3.

With all of that in mind, here’s our Bruins Roster Projection 2.0:


Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen Charlie Coyle David Backes
Anders Bjork Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

Scratches: Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie


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

Scratch: Steven Kampfer


Tuukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak

Injured: John Moore, Kevan Miller, Joakim Nordstrom

Coyle earning raves for preseason performance>>>>>

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Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

With the return of John Moore to good health and a general lack of tight focus to the team recently, the confluence of events pushed the Bruins to make a move ahead of a four-game road trip next week.

The Bruins announced that they have waived veteran defenseman Steve Kampfer at noontime on Sunday for the purpose of sending him down to the AHL. It was clear the B’s were going to opt for the 31-year-old Kampfer rather than Connor Clifton, who just a couple of weeks ago passed the 60 NHL games played barrier that would also require waivers for him to be sent down to the AHL.

There’s a far greater chance that a team would put a claim in on the 24-year-old Clifton, who has two goals and a plus-5 rating in 24 games for the Black and Gold this season.

The final straw for Kampfer was the healthy return of Moore, who missed the first 28 games of the season coming back from shoulder surgery. But Moore has played in back-to-back games for the Bruins and collected an assist in Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to the Avalanche while showing that he’s all the way back from an injury suffered during last spring’s playoff run.

Kampfer has played in just four games for the Bruins this season as their seventh defenseman after putting up three goals and six points in 35 games as their spare D-man last season. While there’s a chance that a team could put a claim in on Kampfer, the likelihood given his age and experience level is that he’ll head to Providence to stay sharp for when another round of injuries inevitably hit the Bruins on the back end.

There’s also no question that a player being put on waivers that’s been with the Bruins for the last couple of seasons might be enough to also shake the complacency out of a B’s group that’s been sleepwalking against opponents over the last couple of weeks. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, of course, but they have needed a handful of third period comebacks after making slow starts the norm as of late.

There’s also the chance that the Bruins need the cap savings associated with Kampfer’s $800,000 cap hit after Moore’s $2.75 million cap figure was added back onto Boston’s books once he got healthy earlier this week.

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Bruce Cassidy: 'We've just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities'

Bruce Cassidy: 'We've just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities'

BOSTON – It was only a matter of time before the Bruins got burned for playing like they could flick on a third period switch and beat everybody across the NHL.

After a number of third period comebacks and salvaged points over the last couple of weeks, the Bruins couldn’t pull the same trick against the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-1 loss at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was the first regulation loss on home ice for the Bruins this season at TD Garden and it was exactly what Boston deserved after managing just nine shots on net in the first two periods while making some simple mistakes that led to goals against at inopportune times.

“For us, [it was a] lack of urgency. We talked about it the other night, again tonight, some of that is definitely in our game early on. If we’re on our toes, I think we’re cleaner. I’m not going to say that we’re not going to execute from time to time, but it’s been an issue for us I think. Some of the unforced errors — I just look at the play, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] takes a hit, [Danton] Heinen goes back with the puck. If we’re playing the right way, we’re in and out of our end. We’re gone,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We go back with it and all of a sudden [it’s in the net]. We win a faceoff to start a period and we ice it instead of making a play. Now we’re in our end and there’s just a lot of details that are working us against us now. We’ve just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities in those situations, and live with the result.

“[It] doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I think we’re leaving plays on the table because our lack of urgency or understanding that teams are coming after us. They’re good teams. We got away with it for a while here, good for us, right? It’s a results-oriented business. But against the better teams, I think at some point, they will close out games. [The loss to the Avs] was a great example of that.”

The Heinen play really was the killer as it came midway through the second period, led to the Bruins running around in their own end and then ended with Ian Cole rocketing a slap shot past Jaroslav Halak from the top of the face-off circle. Then Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk botched defensive coverage in transition at the end of the second period, and that led to Andre Burakovsky scoring the insurance goal right at the end of the period.

At that point, it was over despite Boston outshooting Colorado by a 12-6 margin in the third period, and the Bruins have to hope that it was a lesson learned at this point. It may take a few games for the Bruins to snap out of some of their current bad habits, but there’s also that overall malaise that might be an unavoidable part of the team’s commanding 13-point lead in the Atlantic Division.

That being said, Brad Marchand spoke for all of Boston’s team leadership in knowing that the current state of being for the Black and Gold isn’t something that can sustainably bring success.

“It’s a losing game. You can’t continue to go down by a couple of goals, especially to good teams,” said Marchand. “Teams like that know how to win and how to keep a lead. No matter how many times you come back, it’s going to eventually catch up to you. We’ve had that, especially early on [in games]. We tend to be much better when we’re behind. I think then it’s a bit of a wakeup call and we all have to play good in order to come back.

“But we have to play that way from the first shift of the first period. If you want to win, if you want to be a good team and if you want to have a chance in the playoffs, you have to be able to do that all game along. It’s tough sometimes because the season can get long. That’s no excuse. We have to realize the mistakes that we’re making and improve if want to continue to get better. That’s what good teams do.”

It would behoove the Bruins to get things in order quickly with a slate of important games over the next week including a mid-week tilt with the Washington Capitals, and a pair of divisional games against Tampa Bay and Florida later on in the week. But there really isn’t any worry coming from the B’s about anybody distantly trailing them in the standings right now while 8-1-1 in their last 10 games overall.

Instead it’s about the Bruins themselves becoming the best hockey team that they can be and getting back into a groove where they are paying attention to details and doing the little things that lead to winning hockey.  

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