Bruins call up emergency plan Whitfield once again


Bruins call up emergency plan Whitfield once again

TAMPA BAY Trent Whitfield has been a break glass in case of emergency kind of player for the Bruins over the last three years, and hes filling that role again for an injury-ravaged Bs squad.

The 34-year-old Whitfield was called up to the Bruins on emergency recall from the AHL Providence Bruins on Monday morning, and skated with the team during an optional practice at the Tampa Times Forum. Whitfield said he never assumed the call was coming after he watched Patrice Bergeron suffer an injury while blocking a shot Sunday afternoon against the Penguins, but hed be ready just as hes been in the past.

It was Whitfield that got the call during the regular season and playoffs two years ago when injuries to Marc Savard and David Krejci ravaged Bostons roster, and he got into a total of 20 games between the regular season and playoffs.

I just know that the team is a little banged up a little bit right now and some guys are questionable for tomorrow night. Im just going to prepare like Im going to play and Im sure itll be a game-time decision, said Whitfield. Ive done this periodically on my 14-year career. Ive been here before. Ill prepare like I always do. If I play itll be great and if I dont then well see where we go from there.

Its exciting. This is where I wanted to start the year. Its obviously up to Claude and how he wants to use me, but Im just going to do the best job I can.

Mondays promotion to the Bruins marks Whitfields first recall this season after serving as the captain of the P-Bruins this year while hes managed 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 41 AHL games. The two-way pivot said hes been battling injuries that have made it a challenging year for him, but elevated play on the ice over the last couple of weeks has coincided with getting the call from Boston.

We called Whitfield up because were banged up. Weve got a lot of question marks going into tomorrow, said Julien of Tuesday nights game against the Lightning. If we cant have certain guys playing then hes available to us. I have no idea whether hell be in the lineup or not, but itll depend on the situation.

Hes been with us before. I thought he was a really good player for us when injuries hit us in the playoffs a couple of years ago. Hes got a really good work ethic, hes got some experience in the league and right now this is what we need.

While its unclear what line Whitfield will center, it would clearly be a bottom-six forward role while Chris Kelly will likely get bumped up as the No. 2 center should Bergeron be unable to play. It should be a seamless transition given that the P-Bruins are Bostons offensive and defensive system employed by Claude Julien.

The systems are identical. This past season they really made a point to play the exact same system in both Boston and Providence so the transition would be smooth no matter who it is coming up to play here, said Whitfield. That will all be the same and itll be business as usual.

Its never good news in Boston when Whitfield is up at the NHL level because it means the Bruins have been besieged by injuries, but its also comforting knowing the veteran can step in and fill a role with experience and poise.

Bruins need to "find a way to start playing with a lead"

Bruins need to "find a way to start playing with a lead"

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.