Bruins

Bruins show once again they're not in Washington's class

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Bruins show once again they're not in Washington's class

BOSTON – Once again the Boston Bruins learned the painful, losing lesson that they’re simply not as good as the Washington Capitals.

The B’s dropped their 10th straight game to the Washington Capitals by falling 3-2 to the Caps, and haven’t been able to beat Washington since doing so twice in the month of March during the 2013-14 season. Some of that is clearly about the high-powered Capitals holding Boston’s number and Braden Holtby being a particularly stingy goaltender against them, but some of it also about simple reality that the Bruins aren’t in the same class as the Capitals.

That’s certainly true when the Bruins are missing so many core players with David Krejci, David Backes, Ryan Spooner, Adam McQuaid and Noel Acciari out the lineup, and it’s true when the Bruins are getting pushed around on the ice, and on the scoreboard, by the bigger, faster and more dangerously skilled Capitals.

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The Bruins did the exact wrong thing in spotting Washington a couple of goals in the first period with both Wilson and Ovechkin breaking through, and then spent the rest of the game attempting to get equal footing with a better hockey club. The loss snapped a streak of six straight games with a point, and left the Bruins to once again wonder exactly how well they're playing right now. 

“We had a bad start and we can’t have that, especially against a team like Washington with a lot of skills, and they made us pay in the first period,” said Patrice Bergeron, who enjoyed a great game with eight shot attempts and an assist in the 3-2 loss. “It’s tough to play catch-up hockey.”

After it was all over, the Bruins pointed toward their slow start to the game and talked about coming up just short in a one-goal loss, but they also would have been 100 percent correct to surmise that they’re currently outgunned by the high-powered Capitals. Perhaps when the Bruins are at their healthiest and their rookies have a little more experience, they may be able to stare down the Capitals.

But for now, it’s about Tom Wilson pushing around the B's unchecked, Braden Holtby keeping it a low-scoring game against the Bruins team he owns and Alex Ovechkin scoring yet another goal from the left face-off circle when everybody and their ever-loving uncle knows that’s exactly where he’ll be shooting from. It’s about Washington winning, the Bruins losing and the Black and Gold getting back to the drawing board to figure out how they’re going to beat quality teams this month with only one legitimate line now that Marchand, Pastrnak and Bergeron are on together.

“I think we had a strong 40 minutes, I think we were the better team but we can’t afford starts like [against the Capitals]. Especially against a team like Washington, that has bothered us the last couple years if I remember [correctly],” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals in the Saturday night defeat. “We always have a slow start against them. We have to take the positives, I think the last 40 minutes we were better team. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get one point at least.”

It was a good sign to see the Bruins battle back from a two-goal deficit and use a couple of David Pastrnak goals to make it interesting in the final minute, but at no point did it feel like Boston was going to pull things out against Washington. Instead, the Capitals scored Wilson’s second goal of the game in the final minute of the second period, and issued a back-breaking maneuver in the form of Wilson’s high tip of a Brooks Orpik point blast.

Unfortunately the Capitals are just one of eight opponents the Bruins will face in the month of November that qualified for the playoffs last season, and the others are red-hot teams in the Devils, LA Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning. None of the others have the same butt-kicking tradition that the Capitals currently enjoy over the B's, but it shows they are going to be hard-pressed to do little more than survive in the telltale month of November.  

So far the Bruins have taken care of business against an expansion Vegas team that’s finally getting their dose of reality, and then once again got pushed around on the playground by the bigger, stronger and meaner Capitals. It could be that kind of uneven month for an incomplete Bruins roster that will need things to go perfectly in order to enjoy some real success. 

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With two-year deal in place, Grzelcyk ready to work on 'weaknesses'

With two-year deal in place, Grzelcyk ready to work on 'weaknesses'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Now that Matt Grzelcyk has put a full NHL season under his belt and holds a two-year NHL contract for $2.8 million after signing with the Bruins last week as a restricted free agent, it’s on to becoming the best player he can be.

The 24-year-old posted an impressive three goals and 15 points in 61 games last season as a rookie who really never looked back after winning a job early last season.

Grzelcyk showed excellent skating wheels and a real knack for breaking the puck out of the defensive zone without a lot of hesitation or costly mistakes normally associated with a first-year D-man. Even better, he managed to avoid opponents taking advantage of his 5-foot-9, 174-pound frame. Now, Grzelcyk is looking to remove some of the weaknesses in his game. 

“I don’t ever want to be too comfortable and I always want to make sure I earn everything that I get,” said Grzelcyk, while talking about his new deal in the Bruins dressing room at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday afternoon. “It helps from a piece of mind standpoint to not constantly be looking over your shoulder, but there’s still a lot of competition. I’m looking to forward to coming into camp stronger and healthier, and ready to earn my ice time.”

Some of that is about the obvious: as one of the smallest D-men in the NHL, he'll need to get bigger and stronger. Grzelcyk is also looking to improve his shot from the point, a skill that could make him a much more attractive candidate on the Bruins power play. Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy are the main trigger men on the PPs with big cannon shots from the point. That’s the kind of company Grzelcyk would like to join if he can turn his long-distance shot into a weapon.

“I can always get bigger and stronger. That’s something I’m always working on,” said Grzelcyk. “I think offensively I can use my feet to my advantage more on the blue line and obviously my shot is pretty much the No. 1 thing I’m looking to improve this [upcoming] year. I’m working hard toward that, so hopefully, that will pay a difference come training camp.”

“[I really learned] what I need to do to be successful and help the team, which is using my feet to my advantage. I think that’s huge as a smaller defenseman. Just getting that number of games under my belt and knowing what I have to do each night on the ice to get the wins, it gives me a lot more confidence and allows me to work more on my weaknesses.”

Clearly, a bigger shot and a bigger role in the offense would mean bigger point production for Grzelcyk, but it remains to be seen how high his offensive ceiling can be after a promising NHL beginning.

The question now is, how much bigger his role might be next season after averaging 16:44 of ice time last season as a bottom-pairing D-man? There is certainly room to grow, but it will all depend on how the rest of the roster comes together this fall after what’s expected to be a fairly action-packed offseason for Bruins GM Don Sweeney.  

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Anderson: Feeling good about the Bruins chances to sign Ilya Kovalchuk

Anderson: Feeling good about the Bruins chances to sign Ilya Kovalchuk

Appearing Friday morning on Toucher & Rich, 98.5 The Sports Hub's Ty Anderson spoke about the Bruins' chances at signing former NHL All-Star winger Ilya Kovalchuk, saying he thinks they might have a leg up on other teams due to their cap space.

Kovalchuk, 35, was regarded as one of the NHL's premier scorers for much of his tenure with the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils, before returning to his native Russia in the summer of 2013 to play in the KHL full-time. He most recently won a Gold Medal with the makeshift "Olympic Athletes from Russia" team at the 2018 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey tournament.