Bruins

Pastrnak trending upward offensively with B's down a couple of big producers

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Pastrnak trending upward offensively with B's down a couple of big producers

BOSTON – With Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy, potentially, both injured and on the shelf for the Boston Bruins, it is high time that the rest of Boston’s greater offensive lights are ready to step up and fill the void. Brad Marchand heeded the call on Saturday night, obviously, with his overtime game-winning goal in Boston’s 2-1 OT win against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden, and on that line’s opposite side David Pastrnak is showing all the signs of breaking out as well.

The 21-year-old right winger had a goal and three points against the Penguins on Thursday night, and Pastrnak was again heavily involved in the offensive pressure against the Habs with four shots on net, a couple of scoring chances and an impressive ten shot attempts in his 19: 10 of ice time. Pastrnak was able to rip a couple from the left face-off circle during Boston’s six power play possessions, and took a couple of pucks strong to the net as well in his varied offensive attacks.

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The battle was good, the puck management was solid and the chances were burgeoning with Pastrnak’s game trending in the right direction at time when the Bruins are going to need him if they hope to keep their offensive machine churning without a couple of key cogs.  

“I had a lot of chances, which is good enough for my game. Usually those games are happening after you score eight goals next game you go and [there] is an absolute wall in the net,” said Pastrnak, who has had as many shot attempts (eight) in the last two games as he did in the previous five contests. “It happens, thank God two was enough tonight. I think we were patient and we stuck together as a team really well.

“Obviously I end up learning every game when I am playing with [Bergeron]. He’s such a good defensive player. It’s just about stop and starts usually good offense comes from a good defense so I’m going to try to keep it going.”

It didn’t lead to a goal on Saturday night, but it easily could have been multiple goals based on the quality of scoring chances.

“Pasta could’ve had a hat trick, I thought, tonight. The puck was following him, so on the one hand, because you win [you say] the puck is following him; he’s playing well. If it hadn’t worked out, you [say] he’s got to bury some of those. It’s that simple. So, it’s the good and the bad, right?” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “We’d like to see him finish a few more of those, but when you’re skating and winning puck battles and you do that on a consistent basis, then you become like Marchy and you score 30, 35 goals.

“That’s what [Pastrnak] is trending toward. I thought he’s done a really good job this whole week of winning more pucks and being around [the action] more. He’s too good a player. If he has it, eventually he is going to get his goals.”

The Bruins are absolutely going to need some of those goals moving forward over the next few weeks as the games intensify, and the need to fill in some production without No. 37 or No. 73 becomes a necessity.

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Sweeney says Kovalchuk would be 'nice addition' to Bruins

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Sweeney says Kovalchuk would be 'nice addition' to Bruins

As the free agency period of July 1 inches closer, the hype machine for 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk will grow more and more frenzied for teams like the Bruins.

And coach Bruce Cassidy gladly added to it on Tuesday in Las Vegas, telling reporters assembled for the NHL Awards that the Russian winger would be “a nice fit” for the Black and Gold. 

“Yeah, that would be interesting . . . you never want to speculate,” Cassidy said to reporters in Vegas during his press availability as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award. “You can’t get too far ahead . . . he’s a top-six guy, he can play left and right wing, he’s a big body. He’d be a nice addition. I am sure any team would say that right now. 

“He’s going to make your team better, and I think that’s what you always look at as a coach, and fitting [talented players] in is the easy part. The tough part is getting those types of players.”

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The Bruins will be among a handful of teams vying for Kovalchuk, who spend the last five seasons playing in the KHL after bolting the New Jersey Devils and the NHL after the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season. Even at his advanced NHL age, the expectation is that Kovalchuk can still have an impact offensively even if he’s not exactly the same player who posted 37 goals and 83 points in his last full season in Jersey six years ago. 

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound winger still has the big shot, the scoring ability, the size and the game-breaking skills that made him a former first overall pick in the NHL draft, and it may just be that he has more left in his tank than the younger Rick Nash. Clearly there was a concussion that played a big part in Nash’s time in Boston, but he also didn’t look like the explosive scoring ability was still there like it was in the Columbus/New York power forward’s younger years. 

The Bruins haven’t yet locked in a time when they’ll make their pitch to Kovalchuk’s camp, but it’s expected to happen ahead of the July 1 opening of free agency. Kovalchuk's representatives have already had meetings with teams on the West Coast like the Kings and Sharks. It’s expected that Kovalchuk, 35, be looking at a shorter-term deal making something close to the $6.67 annual salary he was being paid by the Devils when he departed the NHL. 

If Kovalchuk were to land in Boston, he’d fill a need for secondary scoring behind the big guns of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.He would allow the Bruins to keep their top forward line intact while filling a hole on the second line right wing alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. 

With the news that next season’s salary cap is going to be in the $79-80 million range, the Bruins will also have somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million in cap space for their offseason shopping list. That should give them plenty of room to sign Kovalchuk to a short-term deal and still address the other openings on their NHL roster, including third-line center and a backup goaltender. Still, Kovalchuk would be the big fish, and that’s why the talk about him is front and center.

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Bruins open home season with a day game against Ottawa

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Bruins open home season with a day game against Ottawa

The Bruins normally start the home portion of their schedule with a festive Opening Night celebration. But not this year.

This year, it'll be an Opening Day ceremony.

The Columbus Day matinee makes it a rare day opener for the B's. But they'll have had a normal Opening Night before that, and what a night it figures to be:

(The Caps say Banner 'Day' since they'll be raising their Stanley Cup championship flag, but since Oct. 3 is a Wednesday -- and since this is opening game of the entire NHL schedule -- the assumption is it'll be played at night.)

The NHL will release the full schedule tomorrow, but teams are being allowed to Tweet out the dates of their home openers. So, in addition to the season opener in Washington and the home opener against the Senators, we know two other game dates for the Bruins:

And tomorrow, we'll know the whole thing.