Krejci rebounds, plays his game in Bruins win

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Krejci rebounds, plays his game in Bruins win

NEWARK David Krejci is a difficult judge when it comes to evaluating his own play, and the playmaking center knew he like the rest of the Bruins team didnt fare very well against the Dallas Stars last weekend.

Sure he was on the scoresheet and he kept a point streak going in defeat, but he was getting bounced around physically and was dominated in the faceoff circle for long stretches of the game. When Krejci isnt winning faceoffs and controlling puck possession, it puts his big-bodied wingers in chase the puck mode and thats not a good thing unless theyre able to throw a few bone-rattling checks in the process.

So Krejcis line didnt have the puck much against the Stars, and that was something he vowed to help change against the Devils before putting up two points in a 6-1 victory over New Jersey at the Prudential Center.

Krejci fed a beautifully feathered cross-ice pass to Nathan Horton for a power-play goal in the first period, and then scored his eighth goal of the season while tipping a Dennis Seidenberg blast in the third period. It pushed Krejcis scoring streak to six straight games with at least one point, and continues a nice offensive push by his forward line over the last few weeks.

We didnt play our hockey game over the last two games in Phoenix and Dallas. We have something good going on here, so we talked about going back toward the way we know how to play, said Krejci. We had a really strong game putting the puck in the net. We were going short and hard with the shifts and that helped us get the big win.

One of the most important areas that Krejci zeroed in on was taking draws and he dominated on the dot. He won all eight of his draws in the first period against an overmatched Adam Henrique or an embattled Patrik Elias, and finished with 12 faceoff wins in 15 draws.

Coach Claude Julien said Krejcis occasional faceoff woes are all about diagnosing what the opponent is doing to gain an edge over him, and then adjusting his faceoff technique on the fly. Opponents will sometimes change things up on Krejci and force him out of his comfort zone until he makes an adjustment. For instance, Steve Ott ate Krejci up in the faceoff circle Saturday night in Dallas, beating him on eight of nine draws.

Probably where David is going to get better in those areas is when he learns to figure out the issue when hes not winning them," said Julien. "Its not so much him as much as reading the other centermen, seeing what theyre doing and trying to neutralize them to get the advantage.

Sometimes he gets discouraged a little bit and starts thinking negatively. When you dont win draws and when you think youre going to lose, then you will lose. Tonight he felt pretty good and I think our whole team was good in the faceoff circle.

Good is 30 wins in 42 faceoffs throughout the game, and that would be considered great for most teams. But not all teams are leading the NHL in faceoff winning percentage like the Bruins are with their unbendable strength down the middle of the ice.

Krejci certainly struggled against Ott and his legendary faceoff skills in his own mind, but the dominating body of work against New Jersey bodes well for future faceoff assignments.

That kind of performance is all the more impressive on the road, and showed the presence of confidence, execution and gritty determination that sometimes goes missing for Krejci during the season.

Sometimes it happens, but last game I couldnt figure it out. Then I tried to cheat and they kicked me out of the faceoff circle, said Krejci. Today I really bore down and I started 9-0 on faceoffs. I felt pretty good about that and finished strong.

Youve got to win the faceoffs and start with the puck. Its way better to start with it and do something rather than go around chasing the puck. Thats not what we want to do.

Friday, July 22: Versteeg headed for Europe

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Friday, July 22: Versteeg headed for Europe

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading, while vowing to never try to marry the NHL and Pokemon into the same lame story.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Kris Versteeg one of a number of NHL veteran free agents going to Europe for next season.

*The New York Islanders have reportedly been discussing moving to Queens and building a rink right next to the Mets’ Citi Field. Interesting. I know the Isles fan base was not happy with the setup in Brooklyn last season.

*The Black Knights get the top odds as a moniker for the Las Vegas franchise with a number of funny long shot names.

*Ian Mendes said that it’s pretty clear by the moves of the Ottawa Senators that they believe their time is now.

*Jason Botchford wonders if the Vancouver Canucks have a shot at being a playoff team next season. I hope so for Jim Benning’s sake.

*Ken Campbell wants to know if Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier, now that they’re both retired, are Hall of Fame-worthy players. I say no to both of them, but I can be stingy with my Hall of Fame qualifications as the Jarome Iginla fanboys know so well.

*For something completely different: Jon Stewart brought the funk and the noise while breaking his TV silence on Thursday night and tearing into a GOP that’s coming apart at the seams right now.

 

Bruins set to appear 16 times on NBC national broadcasts

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Bruins set to appear 16 times on NBC national broadcasts

The Bruins might have missed the Stanley Cup playoffs  each of the past two seasons, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be taking a backseat on the national television schedule for NBCSN and the rest of the NHL on NBC programming. 

The Black and Gold will appear in 16 nationally televised games in the 2016-17 season across the NBC Sports networks, though they won’t be a part of the Winter Classic, the Black Friday matinee or most of the other NHL showpiece events featured by NBC aside from their one appearance in the late game on “Hockey Day in America.”

In total, 16 games will be broadcast on either NBC or NBC Sports Network, with all other matchups being televised locally on NESN, along with some of these non-exclusive games ceding rights back to the local rights-holder.

The Bruins are tied with the New York Rangers for the third-most appearances on national television this season, behind only the Chicago Blackhawks (21) and Philadelphia Flyers (20). The broadcast schedule is highlighted by the Bruins visiting the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 19 as part of a quadruple-header on “Hockey Day in America.” 

 Bruins games on NBC and NBC Sports Network (all times Eastern):

Wed., Oct, 26 at N.Y. Rangers at 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Tues., Nov. 22 vs. St. Louis at 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Tues., Nov. 29 at Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Wed., Dec. 7 at Washington at 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Wed., Dec. 14 at Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Tues., Jan. 10 at St. Louis at 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Wed., Jan. 18 at Detroit at 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Wed., Feb. 1 at Washington at 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Sun., Feb. 12 vs. Montreal at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Sun., Feb. 19 at San Jose at 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Sun., Feb. 26 at Dallas at 12:30 p.m. (NBC)
Thurs., March 2 vs. N.Y. Rangers at 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Wed., March 8 vs. Detroit at 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Thurs., March 30 vs. Dallas at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Sun., April 2 at Chicago at 12:30 p.m. (NBC)
Sat,, April 8 vs. Washington at 3 p.m. (NBC)

Bruins’ pick Frederic out to prove he wasn’t a reach

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Bruins’ pick Frederic out to prove he wasn’t a reach

Trent Frederic had heard all of the chatter about the Bruins reaching a bit for him when they selected the physical, athletic center with the 29th overall pick last month in the draft.

Draft night pundits had the Wisconsin-bound Frederic much lower in the rankings and even Bruins scouting director Keith Gretzky admitted that Frederic probably projects to being a third-line center in the NHL a few years down the line.

“[Frederic] is not going to be a top-two line guy, we know that,” said Gretzky on draft night. “But he has some jam. He plays hard with the [amount of] penalty minutes. We were fortunate to get him. We believed he was our next guy and we really liked the projection of him as a staff. Everybody raved about him, his character is outstanding. He’s an athlete.”

So, it’s fair to say it was a conservative pick going for a player more likely to have an NHL career rather than a boom-or-bust risk choice like the small, skilled Alex DeBrincat and it’s equally important to note that the Bruins were looking size, strength and jam with a few of their center choices in this particular draft class.

The B’s selected the 6-foot-2, 203-pound Frederic as an organizational need pick and a safe pick at the end of the first round, but there were also at least two NHL teams that had player pegged to go between 20-30 in the draft.

“If you watch him in the [fitness] testing he’s a really good athlete, and he’s explosive,” said Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo. “He was playing on that US [National Development] team behind [Kieffer] Bellows and [Clayton] Keller, so I think maybe he’s got a little bit more skill than people are giving him credit for.

“He’s got some upside more than a third line player. I know that’s what everybody was saying, but there were a lot of teams that were pretty high on this kid. I think he just went under the radar a little bit playing on that US team behind the top skill players.”

So, Gretzky, Scott Bradley, Don Sweeney and the rest of the B’s talent evaluators weren’t on their own in making the selection, and only the passing of time will tell if he turns into the next David Backes, or the next Chris Kelly. 

It appeared early in last week’s Bruins development camp that Frederic was trying to do too much as he struggled at times in skating drills and looked a little nervous during the first session with fellow NHL prospects.

But Frederic settled in after that and showed the athleticism, the toughness and a fairly decent amount of skill over the four on-ice days of development camp prior to getting ready for college. He certainly wasn't bursting with over-the-top offensive skill like Jake DeBrusk or Charlie McAvoy, but Frederic didn't look out of place grinding and battling with fellow top prospects while showing a ready willingness to go to the danger areas on the ice. 

The 18-year-old admitted he’s got a little of a chip on his shoulder about the first round reach chatter, and that won’t be a bad thing as he develops at the NCAA level.

“I have the hard work and the dedication, and I think I’ve been a winner my whole life…so I have that’s something I can bring to the Bruins. I think my two-way play is what they like a lot. My overall skating and my offensive game are things that I’m working on a lot,” said Frederic, who had 20 goals and 40 points in 61 games for the USNTDP last season. “I think you use [the draft talk] as motivation, and something that can push you to get going and to prove people wrong I guess you could say.

“I think I’ll do it, and I’ll work my hardest to do it. [The best advice I got] was don’t read anything good and don’t read anything bad about yourself because none of it really matters. I don’t know if anybody gave that to me, or if I gave it to myself. The main point is [to not buy into anything] whether it’s really good or bad.”

That’s exactly the right kind of attitude for the Frederic, who will be under the microscope a little bit now that he’s become a first-round pick in a Bruins organization leaning heavily on their future prospects.