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

Claude Julien wouldn’t say Tuesday morning whether the Bruins would send recently waived goaltender Jeremy Smith to Providence. He would only say that Smith wouldn’t be with the Boston club.

Claude Julien wouldn’t say Tuesday morning whether the Bruins would send recently waived goaltender Jeremy Smith to Providence. He would only say that Smith wouldn’t be with the Boston club.

His phrasing made a little more sense Tuesday evening, as the B’s announced that they had loaned Smith to the Iowa Wild, the AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild.

Though it’s been a surprising few days for Smith, who was expected to be Tuukka Rask‘s backup this season, his assignment to another AHL team under this week’s circumstances makes sense given that Boston already has Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre in Providence. Jonas Gustavsson, who came to Bruins camp on a tryout, was signed to a one-year, $700,000 contract on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Smith was signed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level this summer after a strong performance in Providence last season. He was placed on waivers Monday and went unclaimed, allowing Boston to assign him to the AHL.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Tyler Randell

Tyler Randell

Tyler Randell’€™s good news was Max Talbot’€™s bad news this week. Now both players await more clarity on their respective situations.

Having gone unclaimed on waivers on waivers, the 31-year-old Talbot is still with the Bruins, having practiced on Tuesday with the team before learning that another team hadn’€™t picked him up. With Talbot still on Boston’€™s roster, the B’€™s have the maximum of 23 players ahead of Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline, though he could be removed from the roster once Zdeno Chara is ready to play. That means that Randell, an enforcer who scored 11 goals for Providence last season, appears to have made Boston’€™s roster for the time being.

It isn’t clear when Chara will be ready and it’€™s not clear whether Talbot will be sent to Providence. Talbot said that he’€™ll do whatever the Bruins ask him to ‘€” including play in the AHL ‘€” but for now he is staying positive as he waits for answers.

“As people know me, I’€™ve always got the glass half-full type of mentality and I’€™m not going to change,” Talbot said after practicing with the Bruins Tuesday. “I’€™ve still got a beautiful wife, a healthy kid at home and expecting a second one. I’€™m playing hockey here for a living, so I’€™ve got that going for me. That’€™s pretty important in life.

“As for the situation, I’€™m here. It’€™s about having a good attitude, coming here and being a good teammate. That’€™s what I’€™m planning on doing.”

Talbot entered camp as one of many players pushing for a fourth-line job. The emergence of Joonas Kemppainen, who could very well be the team’€™s fourth-line center, hurt his chances. It appears the Bruins are set to play Zac Rinaldo or Randell on Kemppainen’€™s right, with Chris Kelly serving as the fourth-line left wing.

“You don’€™t come into camp thinking about [losing a job], but as the camp got going and you saw guys playing well — Kemppainen and Randell and Zac coming in here — you’€™re no fool,” Talbot said. ‘€œYou look around and you know the situation and what’€™s going on. Like I said, it’€™s not something I was planning on, obviously, but it’€™s in the situation I’€™m in right now.”

As for Randell, the 2009 sixth-round pick will have risen from a late-round pick to NHL player. In addition to Talbot, Randell had to beat out Brian Ferlin and others for a roster spot in Boston. He practiced as the extra forward on Ryan Spooner’s line Tuesday.

“I just tried to not look at the numbers and control what I can control,” Randell said. “Just play the way that I had been playing and keep going that way. I’€™ve just got to keep improving every day.”

How long Randell sticks on the NHL roster remains to be seen. Bobby Robins was the feel-good story out of camp last season, but the fighter played just two games before being sent to Providence and seeing the rest of his season ruined by a concussion.

Randell has played zero games to Talbot’€™s 666. Julien doesn’€™t take the idea of potentially not having Talbot on his roster lightly, but he noted that nothing is set in stone.

“He’€™s definitely a real good energy guy that we like, but there’€™s a lot of people in this camp that have been battling for spots that have brought different things that have made those decisions hard,” Julien said of Talbot. “Even though they made it hard, doesn’€™t mean that we’€™ve made a final decision yet, so what we’€™ve done is bought ourselves some time here to make some decisions down the road.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Zdeno Chara is not quite his normal self, and it showed during his first practice back with the Bruins on Tuesday.

Typically, when it isn’t Chara’s turn in 3-on-3 battle drills, the captain spends his breathers taking slap shots the length of the ice. On Tuesday, Chara took light contact in the drills and instead spent his breaks stickhandling and flinging the occasional wrist shot. It was progress as Chara continued to work his way back from an upper-body injury suffered on Sept. 24, but it was a sign that he remains a work in progress.

“His first day, it would be normal that it was light contact,” Claude Julien said after the practice. “He got into traffic, he got into different things, but he wasn’€™t going to be out there throwing his weight around. That’€™s his first day, when he’€™s told to be that way. The last thing we need right now is a setback.”

The Bruins will practice again Wednesday in their final tuneup before Thursday night’€™s season-opener against the Jets. Chara, who skated on a pairing with Colin Miller in Tuesday’€™s practice, would not discuss his chances of playing Thursday, instead taking a Belichickian approach.

“I’€™m not looking at Thursday. I’€™m looking at tomorrow,” Chara said. “It’€™s day-to-day and I’€™m looking forward to tomorrow’€™s practice. My goal is to be better than I was today.”

If Chara is unable to play early in the season, the Bruins would be looking at Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid as the team’€™s first pair, something that could be helped by the fact that Boston has last change at home, but it would be far from ideal. Then again, if Chara rushes back and gets hurt again, having Boston’€™s potentially shaky defense go a long time without his services would be much worse.

“We need everybody. It’€™s not just one guy,” Chara said. “Obviously, I’€™m going to do whatever I can to be out there and playing, but I think that right now, at this point of the season when we have so many guys available, it’€™s a big plus that you have so many varieties and options that you can use.”

The Bruins lines in practice Tuesday were as follows:

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

Morrow-Kevan Miller
Chara-Colin Miller

Rask, Gustavsson

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Bruins goaltender Jeremy Smith and forward Max Talbot both cleared waivers on Tuesday, meaning both players can now be assigned to Providence of the AHL.