PHILADELPHIA — It might be easy for Bruins fans to forget about Zane Gothberg. The team drafted him in the sixth round four years ago, and he’€™s been playing way out in North Dakota while fellow goaltending prospects Malcolm Subban and Niklas Svedberg are just a short drive away in Providence.

On top of that, there wasn’€™t much hype around Gothberg when the B’€™s drafted him. Sure, he had been named the top senior goalie in Minnesota high school hockey, but that was high school, and it was the highest level he had played at when the Bruins decided to take a chance on him. What stood out most back then was that his name was Zane and he was from a town called Thief River Falls. He was considered a long-term project, and if he didn’€™t pan out, then no big deal — it was only a sixth-round pick.

Well, it’€™s now been four years, and it’€™s become apparent that Gothberg is panning out nicely. Two years ago, he was named a co-recipient of the United States Hockey League’€™s Goaltender of the Year Award while playing for the Fargo Force. This year, as a sophomore at North Dakota, he won the starting job by early December and has backstopped the team to the Frozen Four, where it will meet archrival Minnesota in Thursday’€™s national semifinals.

“Zane all year long has pushed to get better,” said North Dakota senior captain Dillon Simpson. “It’€™s been pretty amazing to have a goalie like that. He’€™s a passionate, competitive guy, and he pushes everyone around him to be better. I don’€™t think I’€™ve met a goalie that doesn’€™t like to get scored on as much as Zane. I think that’€™s just part of his attitude and dedication to hockey.”

Just as he had to in the USHL, Gothberg needed to earn his playing time at North Dakota. He was solid last year as a freshman, posting a .920 save percentage and 9-4-3 record, but then-junior Clarke Saunders made 10 more starts and was the No. 1 goalie for most of the season.

Gothberg and Saunders split time again to start this season, but Gothberg won sole possession of the job after two months of superior play. He only got better as the season went along, but then things hit a snag when he suffered a lower-body injury in mid-January that forced him to miss five games.

The 6-foot-2 netminder wasn’€™t going to let that derail his strong season, though. Gothberg came back on Feb. 15 and didn’€™t allow more than two goals in any of his next eight starts. He has posted an excellent .939 save percentage in 14 games since returning, culminating with a career night against Ferris State in the Midwest Regional final. In that game, Gothberg stopped 44 of the 45 shots he faced in a double-overtime victory that sent North Dakota to the Frozen Four.

Now he’€™s ready to battle Minnesota and try to win a national championship. And in the longer term, he’€™s ready to battle Subban, Svedberg and anyone else for a future with the Bruins. He’€™s had to fight for playing time before, and he isn’€™t worried about where anyone has him ranked compared to those two.

“No matter what, at any level you’€™ll be at, there will be competition in that specific position,” Gothberg said. “You just have to work your tail off and do your best and let the chips fall where they may. I’€™m looking forward to it maybe one day down the road.”

Even if the Bruins don’t have a spot for Gothberg when he’s ready to turn pro, good goalies always have value. Regardless of whether he ends up in Boston or in a trade, the B’s could be in line for a nice return on that sixth-rounder.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

The Bruins recalled center Ryan Spooner from Providence on Wednesday, marking his second recall this month.

Spooner was brought up last week for a pair of games but did not play. His chances of playing this time around are better, as Chris Kelly played only one shift in the final 25 minutes of Tuesday’s game and is considered day-to-day by the team.

The Bruins recalled center Ryan Spooner from Providence on Wednesday, marking his second recall this month.

Spooner was brought up last week for a pair of games but did not play. His chances of playing this time around are better, as Chris Kelly played only one shift in the final 25 minutes of Tuesday’s game and is considered day-to-day by the team.

Spooner filled in for Kelly earlier in the season when Kelly had a broken fibula. In 22 games for Boston this season, the 22-year-old has no goals and 11 assists for 11 points.

The 2010 second-round pick has 11 goals and 34 assists for 45 points in 45 games for Providence this season.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

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.