Claude Julien confirmed what Thursday’s morning skate suggested when he revealed the Bruins will take the cautious route with Zd

By the looks of Thursday’€™s morning skate, the Bruins may end up taking the cautious route with Zdeno Chara and hold him out of Thursday’€™s season-opener against the Jets.

The Bruins paired Chara with Colin Miller in Thursday’€™s morning skate, an indication that both could be out Thursday night after Miller did not participate in power play work Wednesday. Given Chara’€™s experience playing with the likes of Zach Trotman and Adam McQuaid, however, Thursday’€™s morning skate look could have simply been gamesmanship on Claude Julien‘€™s part. Chara has been out since Sept. 24 with an upper-body injury.

Boston’€™s roster is currently at 23 players with Chara on injured reserve. If they are to take him off IR, they would need to remove a player from the roster.

Boston’€™s lineup in morning skate was as follows:

(Tyler Randell, Max Talbot)

Morrow-Kevan Miller
(Chara-Colin Miller)


Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Discuss the start of the Bruins season and everything else with DJ Bean at 2 p.m. In the meantime, here’s some required reading:

2015-16 season preview
Is Jonas Gustavsson below average? (Yes)
What can the Bruins expect from David Krejci’s line?

Live Blog Bruins chat

Blog Author: 

ESPN NHL hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined Dennis, Callahan & Minihane on Thursday morning to look ahead to the 2015-16 NHL season.

Barry Melrose

Barry Melrose

ESPN NHL hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined Dennis, Callahan & Minihane on Thursday morning to look ahead to the 2015-16 NHL season. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With the Bruins’ disappointing season last year, he feels coach Claude Julien is under pressure right away.

“I think he is. I don’t think he should be,” Melrose said. “I think Claude is a heck of a coach, won a Stanley Cup in Boston. They had a long drought, there was no Stanley Cup winners and he comes in and gets the job done and the team is good every year. I think he’s under pressure. Boston is a team that expects to win. They expect the Red Sox to win, the Patriots to win, the Celtics to win and they expect Boston to win. It’s going to be a tough year for the Bruins. They are not the dominant Bruins they once were. Everybody got a little bit better in the East and it is going to take Claude’s best coaching job he’s ever done in his life to make this a playoff team and give them a chance of winning.”

This past offseason the team lost a number of key players, including Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic. Melrose says their margin for error is very small.

“Are they as good today as they were last year? I don’t think so,” he said. “I think what has to happen for the Bruins now is they don’t have any margin anymore. The Bruins used to be able to overcome an injury or overcome maybe a struggling player here or there, but I don’t think they can anymore. I think the Bruins have to get plays from their kids, they have to get great games from [Patrice] Bergeron, [David] Krejci and [Zdeno] Chara. They can’t afford any injuries to key players. Tuukka Rask probably has to play the best he’s ever played and they just don’t have any margin for error anymore with their lineup.

“If all those things happen they are a playoff team, but if all of a sudden Bergeron misses six weeks or Krejci, who has been hurt a lot lately, misses six weeks, Chara is already starting the year hurt, [Dennis] Seidenberg is already gone for two months, so that’s going to be tough. They’ve been able to overcome those before, I don’t know if they will be able to overcome those now.”

Melrose also feels Chara has lost a step because of his age, but he is still an above average defenseman.

“He will never just be another guy because of his size and reach and how smart he is,” Melrose said. “He will never be just another guy, but I think the years have took its toll. I don’t think he’s as good now as he was three years ago when they were one of the best teams in the NHL. He’s not a dominant defenseman anymore and how can you be? How can you play the amount of games as hard as he’s played over the last number of years and still be as good as you were. Is he in great shape? Of course he’s in great shape. He’s a machine that way, but time takes it’s toll even a great competitor like Chara.”

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David Krejci and David Pastrnak will be linemates to begin the season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)Another season, another batch of questions facing a David Krejci-centered line.

WEEI Bruins reporter DJ Bean joins Ken Laird in the WEEI Podcentre to answer six pressing questions about the B's in advance of Thursday's season opener at the Garden

[0:00:29] ... question yes let's get started number one. Give us the latest on Zdeno Chara and that aside personal status for the year. Well the talked site it's hard talked Charl but today he took to slap ...
[0:01:59] ... take out my bruins' season preview. I wrote a vote how. So Doug Hamilton being gone just. The rose close Julian usage of his defenseman for a loop. Toward crude has always been sheltered right he ...
[0:03:03] ... wrote it the other day and them say it again they'll miss Doug Hamilton more than they've ever miss Tyler Satan. While worsened sake trade and yes always possible to jail for. The third and trade the book 'cause with the wisdom of years you can say oh it eventually led to them getting these guys the pics and it worked out years and years later. But yeah I like that I like the Doug Hamilton trade. Less that I like the toxic interest. Question number 34 DJ being pro reporter WEEI dot com how surprised are you. ...
[0:08:36] ... coach and all of his players so. Org or someone like even butch Cassidy and Providence like that those. There are guys that maybe they could have on their mind of this guy could potentially be ...

As the Bruins held their final practice in anticipation of the 2015-16 season Wednesday at TD Garden, Zdeno Chara may have taken a step closer to being game-ready.

Chara was present as the Bruins practiced the power play prior to practice, switching off with Zach Trotman on the point of Boston’€™s second unit. During one of the first unit’€™s turns, Chara took a pair of light slap shots against the boards, marking the first time he’€™d been seen taking slap shots since suffering his upper-body injury on Sept. 24. Overall, the day was another step in the right direction for the Bruins and their captain as the B’s prepare to open the season against the Jets on Thursday.

“I was just focusing on having a good practice today,” Chara said. “That went well, so again, we’€™re going to be looking towards tomorrow to have a better feeling and better knowledge.”

Chara danced around the subject when asked about his comfort with slap shots, responding that he was “just doing the drills that we had been told to do.” He was also somewhat equivocal on the subject of whether he still needs to be medically cleared to play.

The Bruins had eight defensemen practice Wednesday, seven of whom are on the active roster given that Chara is on injured reserve. Based on Wednesday’€™s practice, it would appear Colin Miller could be the odd man out if Chara doesn’€™t play. Miller, whose skill set makes him a potential power play specialist, did not practice on the power play and was paired with Chara in practice. The lines in Wednesday’€™s practice were as follows:

Hayes-Spooner-Connolly (Randell)
Kelly-Kemppainen-Rinaldo (Talbot)

Morrow-Kevan Miller
Chara-Colin Miller

The power play units looked as such:

First unit:

Second unit(s):


The Bruins’€™ roster currently stands at 23 players, not counting Chara. If the B’€™s are to activate him, they would need to send someone down. The Bruins’€™ roster, as announced by the NHL Wednesday, is as follows:

Matt Beleskey, Patrice Bergeron, Brett Connolly, Loui Eriksson, Jonas Gustafsson, Jimmy Hayes, Matt Irwin, Chris Kelly, Joonas Kemppainen, David Krejci, Torey Krug, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow, David Pastrnak, Tyler Randell, Tuukka Rask, Zac Rinaldo, Ryan Spooner, Maxime Talbot, Zach Trotman.

Injured: Zdeno Chara, Seth Griffith, Dennis Seidenberg.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

The Boston Bruins led the National Hockey League in goal differential in 2010-11 (plus-51), 2011-12 (plus-67), and 2013-14 (plus-84).

Last season, the B’€™s sank to 18th in the league in that category with a plus-2 mark and missed the playoffs for the first time with Claude Julien as their head coach.

What happened?

While Boston’€™s goals-allowed per game (2.45) still ranked a respectable eighth in the NHL last year, the goal scoring per game shrunk to 22nd (2.55), down from third the previous season (3.15).

In 40 contests last season, including 10 of the team’€™s final 15, the Bruins scored two goals or less, up from just 27 such games the previous year.

“€œWe can talk about low scoring, but we were in the top five [in the league] in three of the last four years,” Julien said recently. “€œIt was an issue maybe last year when you lose a guy like David Krejci who misses half the season, that takes a lot of it. [Jerome] Iginla [leaving] who had scored 30, I mean we can go on and on. That’€™s in the past.”

The 2014-15 Bruins had just three 20-goal scorers and nine who scored 10 or more, the lowest numbers in both categories for the franchise in a non-lockout season since 2009-10. Brad Marchand led the team with 24 markers. Patrice Bergeron netted 23, and Loui Eriksson 22 in a season where Krejci indeed missed 35 games to injury.

Four of last season’€™s 10-goal scorers are no longer with the club, with Milan Lucic (18), Carl Soderberg (13), Reilly Smith (13), and Dougie Hamilton (10) gone to different employers.

Can the likes of Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, and Brett Connolly improve the team’€™s depth scoring and get the Bruins’€™ offense back to top-five league status?

“€œWe have a lot of new faces,”€ Julien admitted. “We’€™ve got a lot of new players that have to adjust to their teammates and feel comfortable but I think with time we’€™ll get better with our offense here.”

Marchand, whose 116-goal-total over the past five regular seasons is tied with Bergeron for the team-high, is counting on everyone pulling on the rope.

“€œWe’€™re going to be good,”€ said Marchand. “We’€™ve got a lot of guys that can put the puck in the net. A lot of guys that can make plays. Hopefully it transitions into the games. You need everyone to chip in. You need all four lines to be able to contribute and all six D. I think we have guys capable of doing that.”€ 

Marchand’€™s anticipated linemates, 30-year-olds Bergeron and Eriksson, have certainly proven they can fill the net over their careers. Bergeron scored 30 goals just two seasons ago and has six 20-goal years under his belt. Eriksson now has five 20-goal campaigns including four such years in Dallas.

Krejci, presumed healthy again at age-29, had 19 and 23 goals in his last two full seasons and is a counted-on presence every night.

It may just be those new faces that tell the story of the 2015-16 Bruins.

Beleskey, 27, scored 22 goals in just 65 games last season for Anaheim (up from just nine two years ago), with eight more over 16 postseason games.

Hayes, 25, lit the lamp 19 times a year ago over 72 games with Florida (up from 11 goals in 2013-14).

Connolly, 23, had 12 goals with Tampa Bay over 50 games last season, before injuries limited him to just five games in a B’€™s sweater (no goals). Connolly scored 21 and 31 times in his two previous years in the AHL.

And last year’€™s Providence call-ups, Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak, encouraged with eight and 10 goals, respectively, in their partial-year showings.

Progress from those five forwards could get the goal differential back for the Bruins in a positive way. That, and of course, the defensive responsibility Boston has become known for under Julien throughout his tenure; the B’€™s have been a top-eight defensive team in the league now for seven-years running.

“€œIt’€™s something that we know with our team, it’€™s expected,”€ said Marchand. “To go far, have a good year and have a good playoffs, you need that. It’€™s got to be in your DNA. We expect everyone on our team to be able to work hard. We’€™re going to hold each other to high standards with that. It starts every day with practice.”

Other things will factor in as well, such as the team’€™s power play success (down from third in the league in 2013-14 to 17th last season, a 12-goal drop-off) as well as offensive support from the defensemen, with tweaks to the team’€™s system that blue-liner Joe Morrow calls ‘€œlittle changes’€.

“€œI think we have a really good, tough, forechecking team,” Morrow said. “Fast. Quite a bit of skill on this team as well, it’€™s a very good overall skill-set for forwards. And you’€™ve got a bunch of offensive-defensemen back here who can contribute, too. I feel like we have the overall package this year, it should be pretty fun to watch.”

Blog Author: 
Ken Laird

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 10.51.21 PMThe confusion over the Bruins’€™ decision to sign Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year contract this weekend was twofold.

For starters (OK, backups), the Bruins seemingly already had their No. 2 goalie for the season in Jeremy Smith. That obviously changed when the B’€™s gave Gustavsson the keys and Smith a ticket to Iowa.

Equally as notable, however, is that Gustavsson being the backup isn’€™t a particularly safe play. The former Maple Leaf and Red Wing couldn’€™t stay healthy last season, but that isn’€™t the extent of his concerns. His .901 career save percentage wasn’€™t skewed by a bad season or two: In each of his six seasons in the NHL, he has been below the league average in save percentage. It would be optimistic to assume that will change playing behind what could be a rocky defense this season.

Meanwhile, the Bruins’€™ backups were always above the league average over the last six seasons, including the discarded Niklas Svedberg last season.

There was no sure thing in the Bruins’€™ backup goaltending battle. The choice was to either go with the inexperienced Smith (zero NHL games but a .933 save percentage in 39 AHL games last season) or put faith in Gustavsson’€™s experience despite that it hasn’€™t been particularly good experience.

“It wasn’€™t just because of experience,” Claude Julien said. “We looked at different things. At the end of the day we took that direction, and I’€™m saying this again: We had to make a decision and it could have gone either way, but we made that one based on how we felt. Maybe it’€™s a slight, slight edge but even we can be wrong and maybe you do get to see Smitty back here again. We’€™re not saying that this is it [and] this is what we’€™re going with for the whole season. We’€™re keeping our options open there as well.”

Gustavsson, who was limited to seven NHL games with the Red Wings last season by a separated shoulder and concussion issues, admitted that he was unsure of whether he would get an NHL job this season. The Bruins opened that door by giving him a professional tryout, with saw him stop 42 of the 45 shots he saw in one and a half preseason games.

“In the summer when a lot of the teams signed their goalies [and] there wasn’€™t many spots open anymore, obviously you’€™ve got to be realistic and think about, ‘€˜Maybe I’€™m going to have to go and play somewhere else,’€™” the 30-year-old netminder said. “My goal was to play here, but there’€™s only so many spots. At one point, you’€™ve got to be realistic. I know I didn’€™t play that many games last season, so I knew it was going to be tough, but I just tried to stay positive and hope that I would get a chance somewhere. I’€™m happy I got the chance here.”

Health and performance will dictate how long Gustavsson’€™s chance will last. The fact that the Bruins used a contract on another goalie when they didn’€™t need to shows that they feel the difference between him and Smith wasn’€™t close, but the B’€™s do have options if Gustavsson is to falter or get hurt.

“It’€™s not like it’€™s over now,” Gustavsson said. “Now you’€™ve got to keep pushing yourself and prove that you’€™re supposed to be here. I’€™m happy to get the contract done, but it’€™s just another day. You take the next step and try to help yourself and help the team win some games.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean