Cassidy sees Penguins as chance to 'measure where we're at'

File photo

Cassidy sees Penguins as chance to 'measure where we're at'

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins are clearly in the slogging-through-the-mud portion of their regular-season schedule. It’s showed with three regulation losses in their past six games, including fairly uninspired defeats at the hands of both Vancouver and Buffalo.

So, the Black and Gold are hoping that a Thursday night showdown with a reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champs might be the exact kind of thing to kick-start the Bruins into gear, even if they will be missing Patrice Bergeron (broken foot), along with healthy scratches Danton Heinen and Matt Grzelcyk.

The Penguins also should be properly motivated as they were on a roll with six consecutive wins in February, but ended the month with a pair of losses to Florida and New Jersey before rolling into Boston for a rivalry game. The Penguins have always brought out the best in the Bruins over the years since Sidney Crosby arrived in Pittsburgh and that’s exactly what Bruce Cassidy is hoping for a team that’s been much more inconsistent the past couple of weeks.

“I think the best thing for us to use the game to measure where we’re at,” said Cassidy. “It’s the two-time Stanley Cup champions that are playing very well right now, and some saying that they’re trending toward a third [Cup]. So, it will be a very good measuring stick for our hockey club to see where we’re at.”

More so than what the Penguins are bringing to the table, however, this is more about the Bruins getting closer to the team that they were from mid-November until mid-February when they were the NHL’s best. The special teams have slipped in recent weeks, the defense has shown some cracks and the offense is going to be challenged without their leading goal-scorer in Patrice Bergeron, but perhaps a date with the champs is exactly what the Bruins need right now in order to get the fire burning once again.

At least that’s what the Bruins are hoping as they kick off a hellish month of March where they will play 16 games in 31 days and look to get on the other side of it in one piece and ready to start preparations for the playoffs.  


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.  



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.