Julien: Horton, Krejci need to compete harder

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Julien: Horton, Krejci need to compete harder

WILMINGTON Anybody thats watched the Bruins knows something is not right with David Krejci and Nathan Horton in the early, underachieving portion of the season.

In a combined 17 games during the month of October Krejci and Horton -- while spending much of the season skating with each other -- have teamed up for a total six points and a minus-7. Horton is second on the team with 24 penalty minutes, and hes taken ill-advised anger whistles in the third period of losses to the Hurricanes and Canadiens.

Its clear the penalties are coming directly from frustration on the ice for Horton with his game coming to him at such a glacial pace.

There have been times when weve taken penalties at wrong moments, and it goes to show that we have to be the bigger man at certain moments, said Milan Lucic. But the emotion were showing shows that we care and were trying to do the right thing. Theres a reason were getting mad. Because were trying so hard to do well and its not going our way.

Things are even worse for Krejci in the final year of his three-year deal with the Bruins.

Bostons playmaking pivot has been a spectator to the main flow of play, and has only a single point and a minus-5 in seven games sandwiched around a core injury that forced him to miss a couple of games.

Compare that with last season when Krejci and Horton teamed up for 18 points (7 goals and 11 assists) along with a plus-10 through the same 16 games in the month of October, and a completely different picture emerges for Bostons top line.

Krejci has been hesitant to jump into the high traffic areas to help jump start his offense, and has been far from a plus on the Bs struggling power play.

Horton has looked sluggish and out of synch with everything thats going on around him on the ice. His timing has been off on rushes up the ice, hes having trouble releasing his once-deadly wrist shot, and his passes seem too far off the mark on too many occasions.

To put it mildly both key Bs offensive players have struggled mightily, and both still seem stuck in neutral while Lucic has pulled his offensive game out of the dirty clothes hamper.

Rather than coddle the struggling forwards, Claude Julien said Lucic provides the beacon of hope and self-improvement for Krejci and Horton to turn their games around. The Bs power forward got on a line with Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly, and Lucic was forced to raise his compete level with quick feet and a willingness to take the body that always sparks his game.

The Bs coach basically threw down the gauntlet after Mondays practice and said the struggles will end for his two top-end offensive players when they start improving in the willingness to work category.

That line is pretty simple to analyze when it comes down to how they play, and thats their compete level, said Julien, who avoided a benching of Horton in the third period against the Habs Saturday night when it would have been well within his rights. I think Milan, when we switched him over, really found his game. There was a straight-forward, puck-behind-the-Ds fore-check and physical presence. All of a sudden he started making things happen and scoring some goals, and it was all about how hard he was competing.

The same thing goes for the other two in Krejci and Horton. That line will have success when theyre at the compete level they know they can achieve. When they compete hard, the plays come around and theres some good chemistry there. They know where to find each other. Thats not the issue. The issue is about how hard they want to compete, and if they can do that then they can be the line we know they can be.

Sounds like thats a wakeup call from their coach that one of the solutions out of their 3-7 predicament to start the season is for both Krejci and Horton to play up to their talent and reputation.

Pastrnak, Marchand and Vatrano represent Bruins at World Championship

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Pastrnak, Marchand and Vatrano represent Bruins at World Championship

The Bruins have three players headed to the IIHF Hockey World Championship, which begin this weekend in Russia.

Brad Marchand was invited to play for Team Canada early on in the process, coming off his 37-goal season for the Bruins. Last week the Czech Republic added 19-year-old right wing David Pastrnak to their squad with plans to skate on a line with the Montreal Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec.

And Frank Vatrano -- who scored a total of 44 goals between Boston and Providence in this, his first full professional season -- was added to the Team USA roster this week. Vatrano, 22, confirmed it on his own Twitter account on Tuesday night prior to hopping on a flight bound for Russia:

Torey Krug played for Team USA last season, but was unavailable this time around after undergoing right shoulder surgery just a couple of weeks ago that will have him sidelined until late October. 

Vatrano is one of four Massachusetts players on this year's version of Team USA. The others are Canadiens goaltender Mike Condon, Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin and Devils D-man David Warsofsky.

Both Marchand and Pastrnak previously suited up for their countries in the World Junior championships, and Vatrano played in the U.S. National Team Development Program prior to playing college hockey at the University of Massachusetts. Vatrano also previously represented the U.S. at the 2012 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship in Brno and Znojmo, Czech Republic, where he helped Team USA claim the gold medal.

The IIHF Men's World Championships will start Friday and run until May 22 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. It features featuring many of the NHL players that aren’t participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Haggerty: Anticipate ‘great deal of player movement’

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Haggerty: Anticipate ‘great deal of player movement’

Ahead of the expansion draft, teams may look to get something in return for players they’d otherwise lose for nothing.

May 4, 2016: If expansion hits, which Pens goalie is protected?

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May 4, 2016: If expansion hits, which Pens goalie is protected?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving a warm May the Fourth Be With You to everybody out there.

*Mike Francesa has declared sports radio war on former New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, and it’s getting ugly folks.

 

*A humbled Bruce Boudreau, who really didn’t need to be humbled given what a nice man he is, will have a long line of NHL suitors interested in his services.

 

*The Northeastern University hockey team has gone to some extremes with their pregame wrestling matches.

 

*Pro Hockey Talk asks the question: if there’s an expansion draft, which goaltender should the Penguins protect given what’s going on in their playoff series?

 

*A really nice gesture within the PHT morning skate with Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper going to bat for a Lightning beat reporter that finds himself out of a job.

 

*Max Domi had a very memorable rookie season even if it didn’t end with any serious consideration for the Calder Trophy.

 

*The Nashville Predators got a little better this week with the decision to kick Mike Ribeiro up into the press box.

 

*For something completely different: these Han Solo uniform jerseys for the Durham Bulls’ Star Wars Night are the freakin’ truth.