New Bruins winger Charlie Coyle believes 'things will open up' for third line after slow start

New Bruins winger Charlie Coyle believes 'things will open up' for third line after slow start

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been three games for Charlie Coyle since being traded to the Bruins, and it’s clear his experienced, two-way presence makes their third line a much more dangerous, well-rounded and effective trio.

Unfortunately for the new guy, it hasn’t manifested into any points as of yet with Coyle going scoreless in his first three games with the B’s and no shots on net until he landed a couple in the Thursday night win over the Lightning. It’s only a three-game spell for the Coyle, 26, but overall it’s been a bit of a drier offensive stretch for the kid from Weymouth. He’s gone 10 games without a point and finished February with just a goal and two points, along with a minus-3 rating, between his time with Boston and Minnesota.

Some of that could be attributable to the stress of the trade deadline and the knowledge he was probably going to get dealt. Now, Coyle is getting settled in Boston, getting to know his linemates whether it’s David Backes, Joakim Nordstrom or Peter Cehlarik, and getting the sense that the offense is coming.

“I think it has gotten better. I think it’s becoming natural for me, as far as the system and linemates, and knowing their tendencies. It’s still a work in progress, which it always will be. But I think I’m starting to get my game and everything is better as I’m getting situated here,” said Coyle. “I knew what Backes brought because I’ve watched him for years, and we were kind of compared to each other in my draft year. He brings a similar-type style. I played against Nordy, but Pete I didn’t really know much about.

“We had some chances in the St. Louis game and I think we need to just get back to that with the simple style. I think things will open up with the puck playing with two big guys. We’ve just got to take pucks to the net and crash it. We’re going to get one. It seems like our line is due for one. We’re getting the opportunities, which is a good sign. We just need to cash in now.”

Coyle helped set up Backes for several scoring attempts in the win over San Jose and he had one dominant shift in his first game vs. St. Louis where he carried defenders while using his 6-foot-3 size to cycle the puck around the offensive zone. Coyle’s coach liked the way his line played in the win over Tampa Bay with Coyle hard on the puck, Backes getting in an early fight that energized his team and Nordstrom bringing his steady veteran presence.

“I thought Charlie Coyle was hard on the puck [against Tampa Bay], possessed it well. Backs [David Backes] gets in the scrap early. [He] lets them know we’re not going to get pushed around. Nordy [Joakim Nordstrom] was on pucks, so I thought both lines were excellent,” said Bruce Cassidy, who said Cehlarik will draw back in for third line duty while Sean Kuraly is out with a concussion. “And we need that. We need that. Whether you call it secondary scoring or them bringing their "A" games in terms of the physicality, the checking, wearing the other team down and setting the table for the next couple of lines, and eventually we got our goals.”

Now it’s time for Coyle to start turning that potential into points as the guy he was traded for, Ryan Donato, has already begun putting up points with the Wild after hitting a stagnant point with the Bruins organization. The B’s could certainly use the secondary offense and Coyle could use the jump start to his offensive game after already showing a glimpse of what he should be able to do for a third line that struggled mightily prior to his arrival.  

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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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