Krejci committed to earning his keep

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
9:10
PM ET


BOSTON -- After Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask signed an eight-year, $56 million contract prior to the 2013-14 season, he said numerous times that he wanted to earn every penny of his new deal.

He delivered on that promise in Year 1 and helped the Bruins to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular-season team, and in the process won his first Vezina Trophy. But as a team, the Bruins came up excruciatingly short of their potential and lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Top-line center David Krejci this summer signed a six-year, $43.5 million extension that begins at the start of the 2015-16 season. Like Rask, Krejci seems motivated to earn his keep.

“I’m expecting the best year I’ve had so far,” he said after Thursday’s practice at TD Garden. “I’m just focusing on a good start, create some good chemistry and also have some fun with the guys because that’s really important. It’s really important to get along off the ice and that shouldn’t be any problem. We all know what the goal is here, but we have to get there first and a good start is really important, so that’s where my focus is at right now.”

[+] EnlargeKrejci
AP Photo/Ryan RemiorzDavid Krejci is knocked to the ice by Canadiens defenseman Joe Finley in the exhibition opener.
Krejci is one of the best players in the NHL. He doesn’t get enough credit for his stealth-like ability. Until last season, however, he did not provide the type of consistent effort to complement his talents. Bruins coach Claude Julien had talked about that lack of consistency with the veteran forward.

Krejci supplied that effort for the entire 2013-14 regular season. Although he was held without a goal and had only four assists in the postseason, he still played a solid defensive game. During exit day, he blamed himself for the team’s premature exodus.

Now, with a new contract, Krejci vows to have the best season of his career.

“I’m not going to downplay it. It’s OK to say it. To me, I want to see those kinds of things,” Julien said of Krejci’s comments. “The contracts that these guys have, they’ve earned them from what they’ve done in the past, so they’ve earned that money. Now it’s an opportunity for them to continue to perform as well, and if better, then great.

“I’m not a big believer of guys putting pressure on their shoulders, feeling like they have to justify it more, because they deserved it and earned it. It’s more about continuing to play well. Every year, you’re trying to improve a little bit, but I don’t think players need to put that added pressure on their shoulders more than they have already with the pressure of performing every night. I think David did a great job last year, being a consistent player. I thought it was his most consistent year, so if he continues to do that he’ll be a good player for us.”

Part of the reason Krejci and longtime linemate Milan Lucic enjoyed their most consistent seasons was the presence of future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla, who spent only one season with the Bruins.

Iginla signed with the Colorado Avalanche as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and not too soon after his exit from Boston, both Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and Julien discussed the possibility of putting Loui Eriksson on Krejci’s right side this season.

Boston’s top line the past few seasons has been built on a combination of talent, size, strength and speed. Lucic and Krejci have been mainstays, with Nathan Horton playing the right side before Iginla arrived.

With Eriksson, a talented two-way player, in the mix, that top line takes on an entirely different look.

One of Krejci’s goals for this season is to score more, and having a more finesse winger on his right side should help him accomplish that. He posted 19 goals and 50 assists for 69 points in 80 games last season, while recording a league-leading plus-39 rating. If Krejci is motivated to score more, there’s no reason he can’t reach the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career. The most he’s ever scored was 23 during the 2011-12 season.

“Hopefully we’ll click well,” Krejci said of playing with Eriksson. “He’s a smart player. He’s a playmaking right winger and not a power forward, so that’s going to be a little bit different for me, but I’m looking forward to it and maybe it means I’m going to get a little more scoring chances. He’s not a shoot-first guy, so I’m always going to have to be ready for him to pass it to me. I’m really excited and hopefully we’ll click well right off the bat.”

[+] EnlargeDavid Krejci
Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY SportsPlaying on a line with Loui Eriksson on his wing could help David Krejci reach the 30-goal mark.
While Lucic and Krejci have created solid chemistry, it will take Eriksson some time to get acclimated with his new linemates and their tendencies on the ice.

“They’re such smart players -- Krech and Looch -- and they’ve been playing awhile together, so they know each other real well,” Eriksson said. “I’m just trying to adjust to their style and try to help them out.”

Only time will tell how they mesh, and Julien will use the exhibition schedule to find out if it’ll work.

“We saw Loui near the end of the year, what he was capable of doing,” Julien said. “Loui can make good plays in tight. He’s also a guy that does a pretty good job in tight around the net, so he’s a good player.”

If the new top line doesn’t work, Julien’s Plan B will consist of trying different combinations until something fits. One thing the coach likes is consistency.

At the start of camp, management and the coaching staff wanted to see how prospect Matt Fraser might work with Krejci and Eriksson. Fraser has looked comfortable on the left side, and even though he will not replace Lucic on that wing, Fraser does have the ability to switch sides and could be an interesting fit on the right if Eriksson doesn’t work out.

Meanwhile, Fraser is getting a firsthand look at Krejci’s talents.

“He’s unbelievable,” Fraser said. “Just how good he is with his vision and how much patience he has with the puck. It’s exciting to play with him and it’s exciting just because he’s such a good passer that you want to put yourself into a position to shoot the puck.”

During the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, as he was held without a goal, Krejci guaranteed he would score in Game 6 against Montreal. He didn’t, and the Bruins were shut out. He did the same before Game 7 in Boston, but the Bruins lost that one too.

Now he’s saying a career season awaits. We’ll see if his prognostication skills improved as much as his bank account did.

Bruins and Habs set to resume rivalry

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
1:43
PM ET
BOSTON -- Just four months after the Canadiens defeated the Bruins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the two teams will face off in an exhibition game Tuesday night at Bell Centre in Montreal.

While it's only a preseason game, the atmosphere at Bell Centre should be exciting.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the first preseason game or game No. 50; it’s the same thing,” said Bruins forward David Krejci. “It’s going to be nice to get the first real preseason game under our belt and looking forward to it,” Krejci said.

Here are the Bruins players traveling to Montreal:

FORWARDS: David Krejci, Loui Eriksson, Matt Fraser, Simon Gagne, Daniel Paille, Ryan Spooner, Chris Kelly, Carl Soderberg, Anthony Camara, Jordan Caron, Tyler Randall, Brian Ferlin and Ethan Werek.

DEFENSEMEN: Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, David Warsofsky, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow, Chris Breen and Chris Casto.

GOALIES: Malcolm Subban, Niklas Svedberg.

At the start of training camp, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he would experiment with a more aggressive system of play in the neutral zone, so the team will use the seven preseason games to implement the system. But there’s more to the exhibition games than just Xs and Os.

“When you look at what we’re trying to tweak in our system and you want to continue to work on those things during preseason, but it’s also an evaluation of players that are trying to make the team,” Julien said. “It’s also an opportunity for our guys that have been here for years to fine-tune themselves and get ready for the season. They’re not going to play every game, so it’s important they take those games seriously and get themselves at the top of their game before the season starts.”

[+] EnlargeMalcolm Subban
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesMalcolm Subban says he's excited to play against his brother, P.K. Subban, Tuesday in Montreal.
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask practiced with the afternoon session and will remain in Boston. Still, he understands how playing in that Bell Centre atmosphere, albeit a preseason game, will help the younger players, especially the goaltenders.

“That building is always fun to play in. It doesn’t matter if it’s a preseason, or playoff, or whatever game, it’s always sold out and the fans are really into it,” Rask said. “It’s definitely a special feeling to play there just because of the crowd. Even if it’s a preseason game, you really have to play good and try to match that intensity there because of the crowd it gives you that extra boost.”

Julien said Tuesday morning that both Subban and Svedberg will play against the Canadiens.

Subban played in this game last season and faced his older brother, Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban.

"Last year was pretty cool and I’m looking forward to it [again], obviously,” Subban said.
“It’ll be cool, for sure. I know last year [P.K.] didn’t get many shots on me.”

If everything goes according to the organization’s plan, Svedberg will serve as Rask’s backup this season, and Subban will play his second pro season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL. At some point, however, Subban is looking forward to playing against his brother in the NHL.

“Obviously, it would be cool to play against him eventually, especially on the teams and organizations we’re with, so that would be pretty cool and definitely looking forward to that in the future,” he said.

Meanwhile, Matt Fraser, who experienced a career moment during the series against the Canadiens last spring when he was recalled from Providence and scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 4, will be playing for a roster spot.

During training camp, Fraser has been playing the left side, with Krejci in the middle and Eriksson on the right wing.

“You can kind of look at it two ways: You can take what you can from last year and move forward, or you look at it like it’s a whole new slate. For me, I am a little more comfortable because you already know the surroundings and you know what to expect from that place. When it comes down to it, that place is going to be rocking, whether it’s an exhibition, regular season or playoff game. I’m excited to get things going in the exhibition games,” he said.

Julien will have his top line of Milan Lucic, Krejci and Eriksson working together in preseason games soon, but this has been a good opportunity for Fraser to show how he can play with the best.

“Playing with Krech, you sometimes maybe try to overthink too much because he’s such a good player and you don’t want to let him down,” Fraser said. “When it comes down to it, all I want to do is raise my game so it makes us better and it shows the coaching staff and management that, ‘We need to put Fraser up there, he’s more than capable to play and he’s more than capable and confident to do it.’ I’m looking forward to getting into a game situation.”

Marchand getting his edge back

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
4:34
PM ET
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Brad Marchand has always been the player you want on your team but hate to play against.

His Boston Bruins teammates are experiencing the latter during training camp, which is a good sign. During practices he’s been chirping, jabbing guys with his stick after whistles, and playing his role as the little ball of hate.

[+] EnlargeBrad Marchand
AP Images/Elise AmendolaMarchand is determined to pick up his game after a disappointing 2013-14 season.
When the Bruins held their Black and Gold scrimmage Sunday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., Marchand was playing against his teammates as though they were wearing a Canadiens sweater.

Bruins management was disappointed with Marchand’s performance last season. Marchand was disappointed with Marchand’s performance last season. During the team’s exit meetings last spring, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with Marchand about his conditioning and how the team wanted him to prepare for the 2014-2015 season.

Less than a week into training camp, Marchand is showing signs that he put in the work and he’s motivated to turn things around.

“I feel pretty good. I still want to continue to work on my conditioning and I think that’s something I can work on all year,” Marchand said. “For the most part, I feel good. I feel strong. I feel quick. I feel more confident than last year, so it feels good.”

Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien know that Marchand, 26, is at his best when he is creating havoc on the ice. He’s an emotional player. At times, those emotions get the better of him and he’s still learning to balance that aspect of his game so he can be more effective on the ice. All of that was on display during the team’s scrimmage.

“It shows that the emotions are there and that’s what you want. When you’re emotionally engaged in a game then you’re going to play better. At least that’s how I feel and even playing against your buddies it can still come out and it’s good when it does,” he said.

Through his offseason work, the seven-year pro believes he’s quicker and can control the puck better than he has in the past. Too often last season he was getting knocked off the puck and that’s one area of strength he worked on during the summer.

Marchand For the most part, I feel good. I feel strong. I feel quick. I feel more confident than last year.

-- Brad Marchand
"I feel like I can already notice a difference,” he said.

Chiarelli can see a difference, too.

“Sometimes players just have off years, and we chalked it up as an off year,” he said. “He still scored a bunch of goals, but he wasn’t entirely happy with his play and we weren’t. I know he’s a good kid and he’ll work hard at it. He said he would work hard at the conditioning this summer and we’re seeing a good start to that.”

Last season, Marchand played all 82 games for the first time in his career. He surpassed the 20-plus goal mark for the third time in his career with 25, and added a career-high 28 assists for a total of 53 points. His plus-36 rating ranked third overall in the league. On paper, it seems like a strong season, but Marchand and the Bruins weren’t satisfied.

He looks good so far in training camp and he always talks a big game. Let’s see if he can prove it this season.

“He’s been really good,” Chiarelli said. “For a guy that scored 20-plus goals last year, and we’re telling him it’s a bad year, so I think if he keeps that up he’s going to have a good year.”

Linemate Patrice Bergeron agrees. “He’s looking great and he’s definitely making some great plays. He’s very quick on his feet and creating a lot of chances by doing that. We have good chemistry together, so we’ve got to keep working on it and it’s great to see him [playing] like that already.”

What impresses Bergeron the most is how motivated Marchand was during the offseason and how it’s translated into training camp.

“That’s the attitude you want in a teammate, being a professional,” Bergeron said. “That’s definitely great to see. He wants to get better. He wants to be an elite player in this league and it’s by working hard and doing the little things. He’s doing that and he wants more, which is a great sign.”

Atlantic Division Preview

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
11:40
AM ET


video

Scott Burnside and Craig Custance preview the Atlantic Division and ask if anyone can catch the Bruins for the top of the standings.

Pastrnak (shoulder) out again

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
3:47
PM ET
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins No. 1 pick David Pastrnak did not practice Monday and remains listed as day-to-day with a shoulder injury.

The 18-year-old forward fell awkwardly into the boards after he collided with defenseman Matt Bartkowski during Saturday’s practice. Pastrnak did not play in the Black and Gold scrimmage on Sunday.

“It’s not a dislocated shoulder. It’s some sort of a bruised shoulder, so we’ve got to wait and see how it heals,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien.

When asked how missing time could effect Pastrnak’s chances of making the team out of training camp, Julien said: “I have no idea. You’ll have to ask the GM that. As far as I’m concerned, he’s day to day, so whenever we see him back we still have some time before the regular season. We’ll see when he’s ready to come back."

Seidenberg, McQuaid back in action

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
11:52
PM ET
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg played his first game in nearly nine months on Sunday as part of the Black and Gold scrimmage at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Seidenberg tore both the MCL and ACL in his right knee on Dec. 27 and had season-ending surgery on Jan. 7. Had the Bruins advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last spring, Seidenberg would have been ready to return, but the Montreal Canadiens defeated Boston in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The veteran blueliner is not restricted and is looking forward to shaking off the rust.

“It was fun. It was a little rough, but that’s why you play those games to get the kinks out of your game,” he said. “It was a good way to get started. We’re out there to get better and that’s what everybody tried to do.”

It was evident Seidenberg hadn’t played in a while, but there were no hesitation in his game.

“I really didn’t think about it,” Seidenberg said. “Playing after such a long time [off] I was just trying to get comfortable again, trying to figure out how to move my feet and place myself, but it was good.”

At one point during the scrimmage, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara dropped Seidenberg with a shoulder to the chest.

“I expected it because I saw him coming,” Seidenberg said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God am I out of position?’ I opened up and had no chance so I might as well just let go.”

It was also the first game action for fellow defenseman Adam McQuaid, who suffered a season-ending leg injury on Jan. 19. He also attempted to return late last season, but he kept suffering setbacks and eventually had surgery on his right ankle in May. He showed no ill effects during Sunday’s scrimmage.

“It was good. I’ve seen them skate the last two days and it’s good to see them in game action with where they were last year,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “They both tested outstanding and it’s going to take them a little while to get up and running, but you can say that about everyone out there, except for a couple of players. It’s our third day in and it’s about working the kinks out.”

Added Chiarelli, “I thought Adam was sharp and Sides was fine also.”

* As expected, Bruins No. 1 pick David Pastrnak did not play in the scrimmage due to a shoulder injury he suffered during practice Saturday morning at Ristuccia Arena. After Sunday’s game, Chiarelli said the 18-year-old forward remains day to day.

“We want to be careful with him,” Chiarelli said.

* Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton did not play in the scrimmage only because of numbers.

* Team Black posted a 6-1 win over Team White/Gold. Tuukka Rask allowed three goals on 18 shots, while Niklas Svedberg did not allow a goal and finished with 14 saves. Both goalies played only the first half of the game. Malcolm Subban and Jeremy Smith played the second half between the pipes.

Griffith making most of opportunity

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
10:35
PM ET
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- While forward Reilly Smith remains unsigned, the Boston Bruins have a “Help Wanted” sign for the right-wing position on the team’s second line.

At some point, Smith will sign but after the team’s Black and Gold scrimmage Sunday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had no update on negotiations with Smith or fellow entry-level free agent defenseman Torey Krug.

Boston’s second line of Smith, Patrice Bergeron and left winger Brad Marchand was the one unit coach Claude Julien planned on keeping intact this season. Without Smith in the mix, the Bruins are giving Seth Griffith an opportunity to prove what he can do.

[+] EnlargeSeth Griffith
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesAfter posting 20 goals and 30 assists in 69 games with Providence last season, Seth Griffith held his own on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
So far, he’s been solid.

The 21-year-old forward is only in his second pro season. He impressed during his first season with the Providence Bruins, posting 20 goals and 30 assists for 50 points in 69 games during 2013-14.

Griffith played well during the recent national rookie tournament in Nashville, and he’s continued that trend during main camp. Chiarelli has been impressed that Griffith has been able to keep up with Bergeron and Marchand, both of whom, as the GM described, are playing better now than they have in training camps past.

“Bergy and Marchy are a half step ahead of where they’ve been before,” Chiarelli said. “They’re playing well, so it’s about keeping up with those two. It’s about getting them pucks the right way and it’s about shooting, and Griff can do all that stuff. He’s had a really good year [in Providence] for his first year as a pro last year.”

Chiarelli compared Griffith’s play last season with the P-Bruins to the play of Marchand and David Krejci when they first turned pro and played in the AHL.

“Griff had a really good year,” Chiarelli said. “He makes good plays. He makes smart plays. He doesn’t have to hang onto the puck a lot, which Marchy and Bergy, they like to move in small spaces, and Griff does that. Three days in and I thought he’s acquitted himself well tonight. He made some good little plays and I thought he was fine.”

During Sunday’s scrimmage, Griffith never looked out of place.

“He’s definitely a smart player and makes the right plays out there. He wants to learn and that’s definitely a great sign,” Bergeron said. “He’s definitely showing some great things out there.”

Marchand concurs.

“He’s a good player, really smart,” Marchand said. “He’s very skilled and you can see that every time he has the puck. He sees the ice well and he’s a really good player.”

Keeping up with the veteran forwards hasn’t been a problem for Griffith in the early going of training camp.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting used to playing with one another and it’s always like that when you start with a new linemate,” Bergeron said. “It’s about finding the tendencies of one another. Me and Marchy, we have that going on for ourselves, but it’s about making sure the three of us find that together.”

Boston selected Griffith as its third pick (131st overall) in the 2012 draft. At 5-foot-9, 192 pounds, he’s shown a keen hockey sense and completely understands his opportunity.

“It’s pretty surreal playing with those two guys,” Griffith said. “They can make plays every shift and that’s the kind of stuff I like to do as well, so playing with them is just pretty surreal and hopefully I can make some plays with them.

“Obviously they have some confidence in me to put me with them during training camp, so hopefully I can continue to show them what they have and get a little chemistry going with them and show them I can make the next jump.”

There are four forward positions up for grabs during training camp and Griffith has an chance to earn one of them. Regardless of when Smith returns to the team, Griffith quickly has made a name for himself; it’s only a matter of time before he’ll have the opportunity to become a full-timer in the NHL.

“He’s had a good camp so far,” Julien said. “I’ve seen him in Providence [last season] and he’s got some good skill, can shoot the puck well and he’s got good hockey sense too. He can make great plays and when you look at who he’s playing with, that certainly helps as well. He’s off to a good start.”

Lucic: Wrist 'better than what I expected'

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
5:10
PM ET
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Since he’s still rehabbing from offseason wrist surgery, Bruins forward Milan Lucic did not play in the team’s Black and Gold scrimmage Sunday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Lucic participated in the first two on-ice sessions of training camp and showed no ill effects from the procedure he had on his left wrist last May.

“It’s been good. It’s been better than what I expected, which is obviously a good thing,” Lucic said. “Just seeing my progression the last two weeks has been good. My shooting feel, I’m not going to say it’s completely back to normal, but I can get to where I can get full pressure into my shot.”

Lucic still is limited in battle and forechecking drills and he’s trying not to push it so as to avoid setbacks.

“As of right now, I think it’s just being smart and going about everything the right way and taking it step by step,” Lucic said.

The Bruins have seven preseason games; Lucic isn’t sure how many he’ll play in.

“The games will come whenever I’m ready to play,” he said. “You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re having setbacks right away. There’s two ways to look at it: You can come back early and have the opportunity to have a setback, or you come back when you’re fully ready and you’re at your best.”

Lucic said he wants to be as close to 100 percent as possible before playing in an exhibition game.

Lucic does not have a cruise control gear, so it’s been a challenge for him to go easy during training camp.

“That’s the biggest challenge right now,” he said. “You kind of have to think a little bit of not going all out to where you have a possibility of hurting yourself, but also there’s that fine line where you want to go hard and see how far you can push it and see how ready it is. That’s the mindset and mentality right now. It’s felling pretty good right now and you just hope it keeps getting better and better as camp goes on.”

Rask backup: Can Subban edge Svedberg?

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
8:30
PM ET
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- There's one thing missing from Tuukka Rask's résumé -- the Stanley Cup.

Yes, his name was etched into hockey's holy chalice when the Boston Bruins won in 2011, but Rask watched from the bench as fellow netminder Tim Thomas helped the team to a championship with his historic performance.

[+] EnlargeTuukka Rask
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaTuukka Rask watches the puck get away from Chris Kelly at Bruins training camp.
In 2013, Rask led the Bruins back to the Cup finals, where they eventually lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

Last season, Rask led the Bruins to the Presidents' Trophy as the league's best team during the regular season. He posted a 36-15-6 record, along with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage, and won his first Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender.

In the playoffs, the Montreal Canadiens exposed the Bruins' inexperienced defensive core and beat Boston in the second round.

Rask is expecting to have another good season, but he's not satisfied.

"There's always room to improve," he said. "I'm not focusing on anything specifically; I just like to get better all-around, every area of my game. Guys get younger and there's always going to be new players in the league, so you have to keep up with them and try to reach another level."

Now that camp has begun, he's looking forward to the challenges ahead.

"It's just trying to catch up with the speed. I've been skating for a month now but the speed is obviously different than the captain's practices, so that's my main focus, catching up with the speed and getting my angles right," he said.

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The Bruins have only five days of practices before the preseason exhibition games begin Tuesday against the Canadiens at Bell Centre in Montreal. In total, the Bruins have seven games and little time to prepare, especially for the goalies.

"It's a challenge. You just try to feel as comfortable as quick as you can, because the first game is coming in a few days and if you're in there you don't want to look bad out there," Rask said. "Once you start playing it'll come back to you, but it always takes me a game or two to really feel good."

For Rask, preparing for the regular season is more about feeling comfortable than getting in a certain amount of games.

"I don't like to set up a goal," Rask said. "I'll just play whatever they tell me to play. I'm sure I'll get a couple of games, but there's four goalies and it'll be nice for everybody to have a game. It also depends on how you feel, too. If you don't feel comfortable, you say, 'I'd like to play more games.' But if I feel good, it's a couple of games."

During coach Claude Julien's tenure in Boston, he's never had an issue with goaltending. The only time he had to answer critical questions about one of his netminders, the subject was politics, not performance, and had to do with a trip to the White House. Other than that, it's been smooth sailing in the crease.

When Rask took over the No. 1 spot from Thomas, the Bruins brought in Anton Khudobin as the backup. That tandem was successful during the 48-game, lockout-shortened season in 2013. Last season, it was Chad Johnson, who was outstanding in the No. 2 role, posting a 17-4-3 record, 2.10 GAA and a .925 SP in 27 games for the Bruins.

[+] EnlargeNiklas Svedberg
Steve Babineau/NHLI.Getty ImagesNiklas Svedberg earned his first NHL win in his only appearance last season, but now he's looking to earn the backup goalie gig.
Now, it's Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban battling for that spot.

"There are guys that can certainly battle for that, but it's never been an issue in the past," Julien said. "We feel confident and every guy we've had has come in as a secondary goaltender, a backup goaltender, has always done the job, so we don't anticipate that being an issue again this year."

After he was named the AHL's goalie of the year for the 2012-13 season, with a 37-8-2 record in 48 games, Svedberg's game leveled off last season. He was still solid and posted a 25-15-4 record, with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.

Once the offseason arrived, the Bruins quickly signed Svedberg to a one-year, one-way deal worth $600,000.

"First of all, I'm happy with the contract. It shows that they believe in me," he said Friday after the first day of training camp. "At the same time, I don't know if it changes my position because I still have to earn my spot and make the team. That's my focus right now."

Team president Cam Neely, general manager Peter Chiarelli and Julien enjoy the internal competition.

"That's how it should be," Svedberg said. "It should always be the guy that plays best should earn a spot. There's a lot of good goalies here, so I just have to focus on my own thing, work hard and do everything I can to earn it. That's the only way I look at it."

Prior to his first pro season, Subban participated in the organization's rookie development summer camp, and it was an eye-opening experience for him. He arrived at training camp last fall with a better idea of what to expect, and throughout the regular season with the P-Bruins, Subban learned what it takes to succeed as a pro.

"Obviously, being professional and taking care of your body away from the rink, and to perform better at the rink and just being more consistent, in terms of in practice and that will carry over into games," Subban said.

[+] EnlargeMalcolm Subban
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaMalcolm Subban knows he's likely bound for Providence, but he's competing hard to stick around in Boston.
Last season in Providence, Subban split time between the pipes with Svedberg. Subban posted a 15-10-5 record, with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.

During the summer, the Bruins inked Svedberg to his one-year, one-way deal, which basically means Subban will be the No. 1 goalie for the P-Bruins in 2014-15. That's not his goal, however, and he plans on doing everything possible to earn the backup role in Boston.

"Obviously I know there's a pretty good chance [of being back in Providence], but anything can happen at camp," Subban said. "You've just got to play well and that's all I can control is my game and not worry too much about the other stuff. Whatever happens, happens, and hopefully it happens for the better. I'm just going to try to play my game at camp."

No matter what happens at camp, he wants to perform well in hopes that will translate into the regular season. His focus is on having more consistent performances.

"Obviously, you want to have a strong start because it usually leads to a strong year," Subban said. "Just trying to start as good as I can right now and get back into the flow of things as quickly as possible, and that will help me going forward."

During his first season as a pro in Providence, Subban kept his mask completely white with no design. He showcased his new mask on Day 1 of training camp and it's pretty nice. It's black and gold with his name on the back and his number on the chin. The Grim Reaper is coming out of the top of the mask, and on the back Subban has Psalm 23:4, which reads: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Subban is confident. He believes he should be in the NHL. He needs to produce to earn that opportunity, because Rask isn't going anywhere and Svedberg is prepared to be stellar if he wins the backup role.

Fraser working to earn roster spot

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
2:08
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- When Matt Fraser learned he would start training camp playing alongside David Krejci, the prospect knew it would be a great opportunity to show the Boston Bruins' brass he's ready to earn a spot on Boston's roster.

In the first two days of camp, Fraser looks comfortable on the left side with Krejci. David Pastrnak, Boston's first-round pick, has been playing the right side, but he fell awkwardly into the boards, exited the ice and did not return for Saturday's morning session.

[+] EnlargeTuukka Rask, Matt Fraser
Eric Canha/CSMMatt Fraser works on a practice drill with Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said earlier this week that there are four open forward positions up for grabs. Fraser, 24, has an opportunity to seize one of them.

"To be honest with you, I'd fill up water bottles for this team, as long as it meant I was here," he said. "I want to bring my own brand to this team, my own kind of skill and persona to this team that adds to the element to the overall team, because that's what makes Boston so great, it's not a bunch of individuals, it's a team that works together."

Fraser, who spent the majority of the 2013-2014 season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, was recalled by Boston and played 14 games for the Bruins and registered two goals from Dec. 8 to Jan. 12.

He sparked the Bruins during the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring when he was called up from Providence and scored the overtime goal to help Boston to a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the second-round series.

Getting that first-hand experience helped him prepare during the summer, and he's motivated to earn a permanent roster spot this season.

"It definitely feeds the wolf a little bit," he said. "You reminisce about the special times you had in the playoffs and call-ups and everything like that, but at the end of the day, that's last year and this is this year. My job is to bring something to the table where they think will appeal to this team."

Playing with Krejci will also help Fraser's confidence.

"It's nice to have that confidence going into camp, especially at the start of camp that they want to see what you've got," Fraser said. "Obviously, you hear about the openings, but at the end of the day, it falls on my shoulders and what I can do and what I can bring to this team. I want to do what I can to show these guys that I can bring a different element to this team."

Added Fraser, "There's such a fine line that separates American League players and NHL players, and you look around this dressing room, and these are guys that found that extra step, or whatever it is to make them succeed. I think I'm there, or I'm close to being there. There are a few things I need to work on, but this opportunity to play with Krech, and the openings that are on this team, I really feel like I can step in and be an impact player."

The Bruins acquired Fraser, along with Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Joe Morrow, from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley on July 4, 2013. With a full season of experience in the Bruins' organization, Fraser is ready to make his mark.

"Maybe it's just an opportunity like this to break through," Fraser said. "I've done what I can to prepare my body, to prepare my mind for a grueling season. I've prepared to be a Boston Bruin, and that's what I want."

Pastrnak hurts shoulder, exits practice early

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
1:47
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins No. 1 pick David Pastrnak exited the ice early Saturday morning and did not return to practice.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said Pastrnak is doubtful for Sunday's Black and Gold scrimmage at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.

"He tweaked his shoulder. I don't know how serious it's going to be, but very, very doubtful for tomorrow. I think, if anything, he'll be stiff and we wouldn't take that chance. I don't think it's too, too serious."

Pastrnak has been skating with top-line center David Krejci and fellow prospect Matt Fraser to start training camp.

"Everybody knows that he's skilled. He's a very talented guy. I don't know what happened to him in the first half [of practice] and he wasn't out there for the second half," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

On Friday, general manager Peter Chiarelli had said the Bruins planned to be careful with Pastrnak and bring him along slowly.

"Let's keep in mind on this player, he's still young and he's light and, you know, you worry with a player of this age and size ... that he could get hurt," Chiarelli said Friday. "He's a very smart player, very good vision and you just have to be careful, and we're taking it slowly and we'll see where it goes."

Dougie Hamilton begins pivotal Year 3

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
9:12
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- There's no denying the talents of Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

He's big. He's strong. He has a keen hockey sense and uses it to his advantage. He also has an offensive element to his game.

[+] EnlargeDougie Hamilton
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaDougie Hamilton pulls on his Bruins jersey on Thursday at training camp.
The 21-year-old blueliner has showcased those skills during the first two seasons of his NHL career, but in Year 3, it's this simple: Hamilton needs to have a big season for the Bruins.

His performance in 2014-15 should function as a barometer of how the rest of his career plays out. It's not unusual for younger players to fizzle out after a few good seasons. Some become complacent, or too comfortable.

It will be interesting to see how this season unfolds for Hamilton.

"It's important because he had a great finish," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I thought he was really good at the end of last year and his confidence level was up. But, he's still a young player and you've got to stay on top of him and make sure that little bad habits don't creep in, or a comfort level, which sometimes happens to young players. They've got to know they've got to keep pushing themselves if they want to keep improving.

"He still has a lot of room for improvement, which is a good thing, because we already think he's a pretty good player, so he just has to stay on top of his game and keep pushing himself to get better."

Hamilton made his NHL debut during the 48-game, lockout-shortened season in 2013. The Bruins reached the Stanley Cup finals that season, before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks. Hamilton played only seven games between the first two rounds and watched the Eastern Conference finals and the Cup finals from press level.

He made significant strides during the 2013-14 season and was relied upon as a top-four defender. When veterans Dennis Seidenberg (knee) and Adam McQuaid (quad and foot) suffered season-ending injuries midway through the season, Hamilton's ice time increased, and he proved to be up to the task.

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"He played great last season, even the year before," Seidenberg said. "He took great strides developing really nicely. He's such a powerful skater and moves really smoothly for a big guy, and he's just really dangerous offensively. His physical presence, he's gotten stronger and better on one-on-one battles. I only see him getting better and more dominant than he has already."

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said earlier this week that the team's overall defense needs to be more consistent this season. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has enjoyed an ice-level view of Hamilton's development.

"I think he just needs to continue where he finished off last year," Rask said. "I thought he took big steps last year and really got better defensively, and he was really showing off his talent offensively, too. He just needs to keep it going and improve overall. He'll be a really good player for us."

The Bruins held their first on-ice session of training camp Friday at Ristuccia Arena. Hamilton looked comfortable and confident.

"Just try to keep getting better," he said at the start of camp. "I really don't set goals for myself but just to keep getting better and keep improving and keep learning. This is the most comfortable I've been coming into camp. Obviously, playing for a year and a half now has helped me, so just knowing the guys, the city and everything makes it a lot easier to come here."

He spent the summer preparing as he normally would. It was a long summer for all the Bruins, but Hamilton is refreshed, recharged and ready to go.

"It was really good. I'm pretty happy with how it went, my development over the summer, and I'm looking forward to camp and seeing how my hard work translates," he said. "I'm excited to get going again."

In 106 regular-season games, Hamilton has 12 goals and 29 assists for 41 points, as well as a plus-26 rating. He has averaged close to 18 minutes of playing time per game.

"I've definitely worked on my defensive game and trying to improve that," he said. "I think I've gotten a lot better at it. From when I first got here until the end of last year, my defense has improved a lot and it needs to keep on improving. I need to focus on that with our team and our system and that's defense first. To be accountable and reliable on the ice is important. The offense, I guess, is just a bonus."

He showed glimpses of a mean streak late last season, and it would be good to see him play with a little more fire. He should use his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame to wear down opponents. If he can produce that type of physical play on a consistent basis, he could become extremely dangerous.

There's no time like the present for Bruins fans to witness the real Dougie Hamilton.

Pastrnak's first day an eye-opener

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
4:25
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- David Pastrnak got his first taste of the NHL on Friday as the Bruins started training camp at Ristuccia Arena.

Boston’s first-round selection (No. 25 overall) in June’s NHL Entry Draft, the 18-year-old forward admitted it was a bit more overwhelming than he expected.

“It’s pretty hard. On the ice, they’re NHL players, so you have to adjust and try to keep going with them and play your best,” Pastrnak said.

The training camp roster is split into two groups, and Pastrnak participated in the second session, playing on the line with David Krejci and Matt Fraser.

[+] EnlargeBoston Bruins
AP Photo/Elise Amendola"It's pretty hard," David Pastrnak said of his first day of Bruins training camp. "On the ice, they're NHL players, so you have to adjust and try to keep going with them."
“It’s great. I like [Krejci] and he’s a skilled player. I like to play with him and I’m pretty sure we understand each other on the ice,” said Pastrnak, who grew up idolizing Krejci, a fellow Czech native.

Krejci, 28, laughs at the notion he’s old compared to Pastrnak. But the veteran has been impressed with the rookie’s abilities.

“For me, playing with David, he’s got great hands, he’s got really good speed,” Krejci said. “It was alright today. We didn’t do too many line drills. We’ll just take it day by day and hopefully we’ll be better tomorrow.”

There’s a legitimate chance Pastrnak could earn a roster spot out of camp, but the Bruins won’t put any unnecessary pressure on the prospect.

“What we've been saying with David is take it one step at a time,” Chiarelli said. “So, get your feet wet in main camp and he had a real good few games in Nashville. You know, he's got the little things where guys overtry a little bit, hang onto the puck a little bit, cut to the middle and stuff like that, but he's a smart player and he'll adjust.”

The plan is for Pastrnak to start on the right wing. Chiarelli described it as a slow progression.

“Let's keep in mind on this player, he's still young and he's light and, you know, you worry with a player of this age and size ... that he could get hurt. He's a very smart player, very good vision and you just have to be careful, and we're taking it slowly and we'll see where it goes,” said Chiarelli.

Pastrnak impressed during rookie development camp in July and again at the recent national rookie tournament in Nashville. Now, it’s a bit different.

“All the players are men here, and in development camp they were all kids, so that’s the difference," Pastrnak said. "We are all hockey players and I just have to keep up with those guys and try to play like them.”

When the first day of camp concluded, Pastrnak was all smiles. He genuinely loves the game and admits it’s still sinking in that he’s attending his first NHL training camp.

“For me, I’m trying to enjoy it. I didn’t expect to be here and now I’m here, so I have to just try to enjoy it and do my best here,” he said. “I need to keep working hard, get better every day, so I can be a good forward for the Bruins.”

Kelly thankful to be back on ice

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
12:53
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins forward Chris Kelly made it through the first day of training camp feeling like his old self. Kelly had offseason back surgery to repair a herniated disk and has no restrictions during camp and the preseason exhibition schedule.

“The back felt great, actually, no issues,” Kelly said. “It’s felt good for a while now. It’s gotten to the point where you’re never going to think about it and that’s a good sign because that’s where you want to be.”

Kelly suffered the injury on April 8 and missed the final four games of the regular season. He attempted to come back for the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the pain was too much to handle and he had the procedure in May.

“You appreciate just being able to play hockey,” Kelly said. “Hockey was the last thing from my mind, but I wanted to be a normal person where you can get up, eat, sleep. For a while there, I couldn’t do those things. So, now it’s just about being a hockey player, which is great.”

Camp is split into two groups and Kelly skated in the morning session. He was in the middle with Milan Lucic on his left and Brian Ferlin on his right.

Kelly joked that Lucic went over to David Krejci after the session and gave him a big hug.

Jacobs, Neely discuss Krug, Smith delay

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
8:51
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BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are pulling out all the stops in trying to make sure forward Reilly Smith and defenseman Torey Krug agree to shorter contracts and report to training camp.

Both entry-level free agents remain unsigned and missed the first official day of training camp, which consisted of off-ice testing and physicals. At this point, they're expected to miss Friday's first on-ice session, too.

Earlier Thursday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli would not comment on negotiations, saying only that he hopes it gets done sooner rather than later.

After the team's annual "State of the Bruins" meeting, owner Jeremy Jacobs, principal Charlie Jacobs and president Cam Neely weighed in on the situation.

The Bruins have spent to the salary cap and are trying to figure out ways to sign both players. Charlie Jacobs said the last thing the organization wants is an ugly showdown where no one wins.

"Listen, that only leads to discord," he said. "In particular, you talk about arbitration and that stuff tends to go south between relationships with the players and that's not where we aim to be. We really want to be a collaborative partner and we are with our player personnel.

"When it comes to the two players we're talking about -- Reilly and Torey -- their situation is they're two-year pros ... and they're in a unique situation. They're not coming out of an entry-level deal with three years' experience, they're really coming out with really less than two. Peter addressed it best, saying circumstances are what they are and I expect that they will be here in time."

He added: "I really think this will remedy itself. I'm not too concerned about it. I may feel differently in November, but at the moment I feel the circumstances dictate that they're going to have to come maybe on a one- or two-year deal to bridge into their next, perhaps larger deal."

Neely is obviously in a unique position, having been a player at one time but who now sits on the other side of the table.

"I hate to see young guys, I was a young player once and I had a contract dispute one time and I didn't get to camp on time and I know it takes awhile to catch up," Neely said. "Especially nowadays with the shape these guys are in. I know they're in great shape going into camp, but we talk about practicing with a purpose and getting into some exhibition games is a little different than off-ice training and skating on your own.

"I just hope we get something done real quick. Obviously, those guys had great years for us last year and they're a big part of our organization moving forward. I'd like to see something get done sooner rather than later."

Jeremy Jacobs made it clear he has given Chiarelli ownership's full support in this unique situation.

"I think Peter is absolutely doing the right thing. I'm very confident," Jacobs said. "We've got a cap and he has to accommodate these players. Signing [David] Krejci was the right idea. [Chiarelli] moved in the right direction. We spent to the cap and we can't accommodate everybody at this point, not at the level they want to be compensated."

Jacobs pointed to Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and other veteran players who had to produce for a longer period of time before the organization rewarded them with long-term contracts.

"There are times when you get paid very well, and there's time that you don't. That's the way the system is built and it's functioning and doing well. We've never had more money to spend than we have right now and we've spent every cent we have. We told you early on we were going to spend to the cap and we've done it and we'll continue to. It isn't like these people are necessarily underpaid that they can't live on it. They do very well and they just want to do better, and I don't blame them. I can't think there's a person in this room that doesn't want to do better, but their time will come. And if they're great players going forward they will be compensated when they get older in that way, or as they mature into this business."

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