Bruins

Is Craig Berube sending a Game 7 message he wants Blues to run Bruins players?

Is Craig Berube sending a Game 7 message he wants Blues to run Bruins players?

BOSTON – Once again St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube is sending messages through the media leading into a winner-take-all Game 7 against the Bruins for the Stanley Cup.

The words are coming off a 5-1 win for the B’s in Game 6 where Boston exploded for four goals in the third period and the Blues didn’t have the same physical edge they showed at times throughout the best-of-seven series. Not so coincidentally, the Blues also didn’t have a player suspended in the wake of the game for only the fourth time in the six Cup Final games played thus far leading into Wednesday night’s Game 7.

The Blues are already the first team in Stanley Cup Final history to have a pair of players suspended in the NHL’s showcase event. Oskar Sundqvist was given a one-game suspension for running Matt Grzelcyk from behind at the beginning of the series, and Ivan Barbashev had to sit for a game after throwing a head shot at Marcus Johansson in the opening minutes of Game 5.  

Now it seems that Berube is actively encouraging the Blues to get back to that level of dirty hits designed to injure players as the Blues bench boss lamented the lack of physicality from his team in the Game 6 loss on home ice.

“I think we can be more physical than we were last game. That will help in penalty killing. Just being the player that [Ivan Barbashev] is, that line, we can use them against anybody and they can do the job,” said Berube, when asked about Barbashev drawing back into the lineup after serving his one-game suspension in Game 6. “Who knows what goes on, what goes through guys' heads, things like that?

“A lot of times you just don't get there in time to make the contact. You don't want to chase it, but when it's there, you're on your toes. I think a lot of it personally, just watching the game today, our puck placement wasn't great to make the hits, things like that. Also, too, I mean, maybe it runs through their head they don't want to take a penalty, making a bad hit. We got to be aggressive. That's our style. That's the way we have success.”

On the surface Berube is saying that his Blues team can be more physical than they were in Game 6, but it also sounds like he’s tacitly giving the green light for his players to pin their ears back and “be aggressive” without fear of penalties holding them back.

After all, what does a suspension for next season matter to a desperate Blues team as they enter a Game 7 for all the marbles on Wednesday night?

Adding even less of a deterrent, the NHL has shown a complete unwillingness to call an in-game major penalty in these Stanley Cup Playoffs dating back to the first round when the call on Joe Pavelski completely changed the direction of the San Jose Sharks/Vegas Golden Knights first-round playoff series.

So what downside is there for the Blues to start running Bruins players to take them out of a decisive Game 7, and then next season go ahead and pay whatever supplemental discipline tab comes due?

Series-long targets like Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, David Pastrnak and Marcus Johansson will have to watch their backs, and it feels like on-ice awareness will be key for every Bruins player. 

Surely the B's realize all of this headed into a Game 7 scenario where they have plenty of past experience, and it will be a part of a game plan where the Bruins power play will need to make the Blues pay dearly should they cross the line with bad hits and worse intent.  

One thing is for sure. It’s been eight years since there’s been a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final and this one is setting up to be a nasty piece of business between a pair of hockey clubs that have engaged in serious battle over the first six games.

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Ex-Bruin Ryan Donato re-signs with Minnesota Wild on two-year deal

Ex-Bruin Ryan Donato re-signs with Minnesota Wild on two-year deal

Ex-Bruins forward Ryan Donato will be staying in Minnesota for the foreseeable future.

The 23-year-old, who was traded from the B's to the Wild for Charlie Coyle on Feb. 20, signed a two-year deal worth $3.8 million on Tuesday.

Donato played well after joining the Wild last season, notching 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 22 games. The Scituate native tallied 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 46 total games with Boston over two years.

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Jakub Lauko ready to be 'humble & prepared' for Bruins training camp

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Jakub Lauko ready to be 'humble & prepared' for Bruins training camp

It wasn’t a slam dunk that 19-year-old Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko was going to play in the QMJHL this past season.

In fact, Lauko admitted he had a lot of reservations when it was first discussed that the best move for the Czech winger would be to come over for North American junior hockey where he could begin to adjust away from the European game.

Lauko wanted to go right to the AHL in Providence after scoring a couple of goals early in his first NHL training camp before suffering an injury in a collision during camp practice with Noel Acciari. Clearly it was the right move for the teenager to head instead to junior hockey for his development, though, and that’s the way things played out for him in a year where he got better as things went along.

It still was tough as Lauko adjusted to a different language and culture over the course of the hockey season, but the top B’s forward prospect had zero regrets when it was all over with this summer.

Lauko didn’t skate at all in Bruins development camp a few weeks ago because his junior season had just wrapped up after Rouyn-Noranda made it all the way to the Memorial Cup, but the Bruins prospect says that his experience in Quebec ended up making him a better player. It also showed him to be a big game player as he led the way with his eight points (two goals, six assists) in the five games it took Rouyn-Noranda to hoist the Memorial Cup.

“I hated it for the first month,” said Lauko, who was playing through a lower body injury toward the end of his team’s postseason run. “But at the end of the season, you just look up and see that you won two trophies. It was the right choice after that. I think I changed a lot as a player. I improved my English, and I think I’m a different player after this season, different person. I’m just happy I made the choice.”

“It was a really big experience for me, through the regular season, playoffs and to the Cup. It was hell of a ride for us and I really enjoyed it. Just happy to have two trophies over my head after.”

He was always pretty good to begin as evidenced by his standout performance at last summer’s development camp, and in last fall’s Bruins rookie training camp as well. The 6-foot-1, 172-pounder has speed, tenacity and goal-scoring ability as evidenced by his 21 goals and 41 points in 43 games for the Huskies during the regular season. Then he poured on six more goals and 13 points in 19 games during the Memorial Cup playoffs and showed off the skill that got him drafted.

Now Lauko heads into his second NHL training camp one year bigger, stronger and more mature in his hockey game. Will he finally get his wish to be in either Boston or Providence this fall where he’s already shown some of the hard-nosed and skilled traits he’ll need to eventually stick at the NHL level?

"I think he came in last year and had a good training camp, he did a real good job of coming over to North America and adjusting a little bit. It was a little bit of a challenge early on. Tough going into Northern Quebec learning English and French at the same time to a degree,” said Bruins Player Development Coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner. “It was tough living-wise for him early on, but his game continued to grow and he played his best hockey at the end of the year. That's what we were hoping for. We will see when September and October comes with him."

Certainly the Bruins could use another top-6 or top-9 winger after they never replaced the departing Marcus Johansson, but it has to be considered a longshot for Lauko with more finished prospect products like Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik and Zach Senyshyn in the running for any vacant forward spots.

Whether it’s next season or a couple of years down the road, however, it’s beginning to feel like Lauko is going to be in Boston sooner rather than later. And he will make an impact with his two-way game when he finally does arrive after the Bruins selected him in the third round (77thoverall) in last summer’s NHL Draft.

“It’s hard to say (where I will play this season),” said Lauko, who signed his entry-level deal with the Bruins at the tail end of training camp last fall. “I will go into the year and just try to find a spot in Boston. You never know what’s going to happen. I will just stay positive and whatever happens is going to happen.

"I will just arrive here humble and prepared. I will try to fight for a spot here. If it will not go well, just keep working and try to fight for a spot during the season and next seasons.”

Lauko certainly has the right attitude and he’s got the goods as far as his game goes on the ice. Everybody will just have to wait a few months to see if the 19-year-old has matured enough to the point where he could use those electric skills and tenacity to challenge for a B’s roster spot at a precocious young age.

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