PHILADELPHIA — With Boston College trailing 3-2 early in the third period of its regional final against UMass-Lowell, Ryan Fitzgerald took a pass in the neutral zone and split two Lowell defenders before finishing with a nice forehand-backhand move at the front of the net.

It’€™s a play that Fitzgerald, the Bruins’€™ fourth-round pick this past summer, has always been able to make. The difference now is that he knows when to go for it and when it might be better to be conservative and either dump the puck in or pull up and wait for help.

‘€œHe came in here as a really skilled 1-on-1 player, had great moves, great hands,’€ said linemate and BC captain Patrick Brown. ‘€œBut I think as the year has gone on, he’€™s developed his vision a lot. He’€™s learned that he can’€™t beat everyone 1-on-1. Sometimes he does, but sometimes he has to chip pucks in or make a read and decide whether it’€™s the right play to take that 1-on-1. He did a great job doing that against Lowell, had that great goal for us.’€

Decision-making isn’€™t the only area in which Fitzgerald has improved during his freshman year at the Heights. It’€™s part of what has made him a better all-around player, but an even bigger part has been his defensive play. That’€™s a theme across college hockey, as most players come from leagues where defense isn’€™t emphasized as much or isn’€™t taught as well.

Fitzgerald is no different. He had the winning and scoring down pat. The North Reading native helped lead Malden Catholic to back-to-back Super 8 titles in 2011 and 2012. Then he went to the Valley Junior Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League and earned MVP honors in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

The 5-foot-9 playmaker has always been a student of the game, too, having learned from his father, Tom (a 17-year NHLer who is now an assistant general manager for the Penguins), and uncle, Scott (an assistant scouting director with the Bruins).

But when Fitzgerald arrived at BC in the fall, Jerry York and the rest of the coaching staff identified his defensive play as an area they were going to help him improve. Fitzgerald was willing to listen and willing to learn, and as a result, he’€™s already made significant strides in just one season.

‘€œHe’€™s a much better player now, in all three zones, than he was when he came to our first practice in October,’€ York said. ‘€œWe recruited a very good player. He was a very good player before he came. He’€™s always had the ability to score goals and create offense. Now I think he pays a little more attention to the defensive side of the game.’€

Oh, and Fitzgerald has continued to score goals and create offense, too. His 12 goals this season are third among Hockey East freshmen, and his 28 points are fourth. Those numbers are often overlooked — even in college hockey circles — because of the ridiculous production BC has gotten from its top line, as Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold have 77, 63 and 52 points, respectively.

But that’€™s a once-in-a-generation line. Comparing anyone’€™s production to that isn’€™t fair. What is fair is comparing Fitzgerald to other second-line players. When it comes to scoring, the only other Hockey East team with a comparable second line is Notre Dame. And when it comes to the other teams here in Philadelphia for the Frozen Four, Fitzgerald, Brown and Austin Cangelosi are, at worst, on par with the second lines from Union, Minnesota and North Dakota.

While the top line is the biggest key to the team’€™s success, the Eagles have known all season that there would be games in which they needed other lines to step up. Because that has happened — led by Fitzgerald and company — York has been able to keep his dynamic top line together and not split them up to spread out the offense.

‘€œYou can have marquee players, and you need those players to be really good, but they have to have a supporting cast that does things also,’€ York said. ‘€œIt’€™s not like basketball where you can start five players and play them the majority of the game. We’€™re using 18 players on a pretty regular basis.’€

Fitzgerald stepped up two weekends ago against Lowell, and he knows his team is going to need him to play well again in Thursday’€™s national semifinal against Union (a team that includes Mike Vecchione, his former Malden Catholic linemate). If he does, he could find himself winning another championship on Saturday night.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin
Andy Brickley joins Mut and Merloni as the postseason approaches and discusses possible match-ups with Columbus and Detroit. He also discusses the possibility of a Seidenberg return.

[0:00:02] ... lose in the shoot out last night thankfully no shootouts in the post season but will the BA Dennis Seidenberg. In the post season brick to herald today has a source. Saying that day he got on the ice yesterday at or baskets every black couple weeks but. Have you heard the same thing that you what -- -- skate yesterday that Dennis Seidenberg might be able to rejoin on this team later on the post season. Well below the road and not being around -- Seidenberg and whether he's skating or god I don't have first hand knowledge ...
[0:00:53] ... help clean -- Yeah and if everybody know later on in a post season without playing all that much it's expected analogue the big minutes can keep -- sixth defenseman. And limit his ice time almost ...
[0:03:01] ... does come up it's some ploy because of injury performance whatever to post season it's nice to probably get low but have a look at this. Yeah you -- see it does make it different with their -- machine and -- urbanized. It's not his speed but now they have some options and some versatility at some familiarity it's injuries to rise. Course Chris Kelly did finish the game last great. We were a little reluctant to speculate what was going on with it quickly -- which -- in the third period. We saw guys like accommodations because of the seventh as in the in the in the what molest or eleven forwards. So Kelly can't call -- fault in that category of precautionary. Because they want all of their all of their guys ready to go mentally physically emotionally when it gave mortar round. We're talking -- -- of -- on the road Bruins play three more games here before the playoffs to start likely a ...
[0:08:47] ... all the rest of the way it was not available from the post season or not a 100%. How much did you knock down Tampa's chances at beating Montreal that first round. A lot. He's been ...






Andy Brickley

Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Dennis Seidenberg, the injuries to Jarome Iginla and Kevan Miller, where Andrej Meszaros fits on the depth chart, the play of Matt Bartkowski and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

With momentum picking up on Seidenberg playing in the postseason at some point, fans have started to wonder where the defenseman would be on the depth chart. Brickley said he didn’t think that the 32-year-old should be slotted back on the top pairing at the expense of Miller, who’€™s played well in his absence.

“I just find it so difficult to put a guy that’€™s not a hundred percent, or depending on what percent he is, in front of say, Kevan Miller, who’€™s been getting the job done, who’€™s in top form, who’s game-ready and ready to go and proven that they have trust in this guy,” Brickley said.

Miller and Iginla both missed Tuesday’€™s matchup with Minnesota, despite making the trip. Brickley is confident both will be ready to go for the playoffs.

“€œIf this was playoff hockey right now, I’€™m convinced both would be able to play,”€ Brickley said. “€œIt’€™s all about maintenance, it’€™s all about rest, it’€™s all about precautionary, those are the terms you’€™re going to hear right now. Because the Bruins put themselves in this position, they have the options to really focus on the middle of April and not so much on the results and having guys play right now.”

At the trade deadline, the Bruins’ most significant move came in trading for Meszaros, who was expected to battle for one of the six defense positions. Brickley doesn’t think Meszaros has done enough, however, to warrant a spot.

“I think he is seventh on the depth chart,”€ Brickley said. “I think that’€™s based on what he’€™s done in a Bruins uniform relative to the six in front of him before he was acquired. I don’€™t think he’€™s supplanted anybody. I think he struggles a little bit with the defensive side of the game, the Bruins system, the decision-making, not to chase in one-on-one coverage. He’€™s real good when you start thinking about offense and jumping in on the play, having a good shot to point, maybe being an asset on the power play, but I don’€™t think that’€™s what the Bruins were looking for when they made that acquisition.”

While Brickley still sees Bartkowski, one of the players challenged for playing time with the Meszaros competition, making mistakes, he does see improvement.

“He’€™s still been a little bit up and down,” Brickley said. “He can have a really good game some nights for 55 minutes but then he’€™ll make a mistake and in a critical time and that mistake, traditionally or most commonly, has been a wraparound the boards when he’€™s under pressure instead of having the poise to make a play or making a better decision and not a simple giveaway. But overall I think his game has elevated.”

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

 

According to the Boston Herald, Bruins defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid skated Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.

 

According to the Boston Herald, Bruins defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid skated Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.

Seidenberg was ruled out for the season after tearing his ACL/MCL on Dec. 27 against the Senators, but he is well ahead in his recovery from surgery and the possibility exists that he could return late in the playoffs.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had told the Boston Globe last month that Seidenberg might begin skating later in the postseason, but Steve Conroy of the Herald reported that the veteran defenseman skated for 15 minutes and that “it’€™s not known just how well his knee held up.” It is also unclear when he will skate again.

“My guess is, if we go deep, he’€™€™ll start skating at some point and we’€™€™ll just see how he is,’€ Chiarelli told the Globe on March 21. ‘€œWe’€™€™ve been very cautious in the past with the injuries and coming back.’€

McQuaid, meanwhile, has been out since Jan. 19 with a quad strain. The team decided to shut him down in early March after he suffered a setback in his attempted return. Conroy reported there is no timetable for either player’s return to the lineup.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Are the Bruins the best team in the NHL? Who do you want to face in the first round? Which defenseman sits in the playoffs? Does Loui Eriksson belong in the top six? Chat all things Bruins with DJ Bean at 2 p.m.

 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

The last team to win the President's Trophy also won this trophy. (AP)The Bruins aren’t going for the Presidents' Trophy -- they haven’t all season -- and they’re probably going to get it. 



The Bruins continued resting players but blew a late lead before falling, 4-3, in a shootout to the Wild Tuesday night.

Ryan Suter tied the game with 1:05 remaining and Ilya Bryzgalov held on in the shootout as the Wild clinched a playoff spot.

The Bruins let Tuesday's game get away from them. (AP)

The Bruins let Tuesday’s game get away from them. (AP)

The Bruins continued resting players but blew a late lead before falling, 4-3, in a shootout to the Wild Tuesday night.

Ryan Suter tied the game with 1:05 remaining and Ilya Bryzgalov held on in the shootout as the Wild clinched a playoff spot.

The B’s and Wild traded a pair of goals apiece in the first period, with Jason Pominville beating Tuukka Rask with a one-timer on a power play 1:05 into the game. Reilly Smith answered with a power play goal of his own at 3:00 of the first, with the goal serving as his second in the last 27 games.

Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins the lead by sending a loose puck in front past Bryzgalov to extend his point streak to 12 games (10 goals, six assists). Pominville tied the game 28 seconds later and the teams played tied late into the second period before Gregory Campbell scored a power play goal.

In addition to Jarome Iginla and Kevan Miller both missing the game with minor injuries, the Bruins sat David Krejci for the night as a healthy scratch. With both Krejci and Iginla out, Carl Soderberg centered a line with Milan Lucic and Loui Eriksson. The absence of two regular forwards also meant the team had only 11 forwards, so Torey Krug played left wing on Campbell’s line while Daniel Paille moved up to play with Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron. Kelly left the game in the third period and did not return to the game, with Claude Julien saying after the game that the team was being “cautious.”

The Bruins, who have already clinched the first seed in the Eastern Conference, gained separation from the Blues for the President’s Trophy. St. Louis lost to Washington, leaving Boston with a three-point lead over the Blues with three games left to play for each team.

The Bruins will play the Jets Thursday in Winnipeg before hosting the Sabres Saturday and finishing the season Sunday in New Jersey.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins have allowed a pair of goals while holding a one-goal lead in the final minute of games recently. In addition to Suter’s goal, Vincent Lecavalier got the equalizer with the goalie pulled when the B’s and Flyers played on March 30.

- Plus-minus isn’t everything, but Caron was the only player on either team to finish with a minus-2 rating, as he was on the ice for both Pominville’s second goal and Suter’s game-tying goal.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Rask was sensational in overtime, as the Wild had several good chances in 4-on-4 play and outshot Boston, 6-2. Given that overtime in the postseason has one more guy on the ice per side, it would be a stretch to say the extra five minutes did anything to prepare Rask for the postseason, but he at the very least provided a reminder of his dominance when games are on the line.

- Bergeron’s goal brought him up to 29 on the season. With three games left to play and putting up numbers like crazy of late, he has a great chance of recording 30 goals for just the second time in his career and the first time since 2005-06.

- Speaking of goal plateaus, Smith finally reached the 20-goal plateau after racing out to 18 goals early in the season.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

In 2011, it was an old Bruins Starter jacket that the No. 1 star of the game wore after each Bruins playoff win.

Last year, Andrew Ference continued his own tradition by using an Army Rangers jacket to serve the same purpose, paying tribute to veterans of the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Bruins can thank a legend from their past for the newest tradition, a heavily-worn “Old-Time Hockey” jacket.

“This is the new game jacket. It’s from Johnny Bucyk, so this is the new look from here on in after a win, and hopefully we can pass it along for a long time,” Lucic said.

Perhaps the greatest significance of the latest tradition is honoring the past, specifically Bucyk and the Big Bad Bruins of the 1970s, a team the current Bruins are trying to emulate with a second Stanley Cup title this spring.

“There’€™s a lot of respect for those guys, the past of this franchise and the people that have been here, and it’€™s Johnny Bucyk’€™s jacket ‘€” he gave it to Looch because he doesn’€™t fit it in anymore,” head coach Claude Julien quipped over the weekend. “So otherwise, he probably would have had to buy it, right? So he’€™s been real good to us, and we felt that this was a great opportunity for him to continue to be a part of our group, which he is, and donate something that I think the players are finding really important right now.

“And again, it’€™s an homage to those guys that have been here and done so well, and I think our players, as I said, have a lot of respect for those guys and they want to continue the tradition. So they’€™re going to wear that jacket.”

Ference might be gone but the tradition of honoring the player each game that symbolizes what it means to be a Bruin, thanks to captain Zdeno Chara.

“Being the captain, he stepped up and carried the tradition of a game jacket,” Lucic said.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia