Haggerty: B's lacking effort as season ends

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Haggerty: B's lacking effort as season ends

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Its a good thing Shawn Thornton assembled the Bs energy line back together, and decided to carry his indomitable grit, heart and spirit to the rink rather than complain about the 40-stitch cut over his right eye.

For some, the close brush with possibly losing an eye or suffering a brutal scar would at least keep them out until the playoffs starts. But not Thornton. He and his line used Wednesday's game against the Islanders as a celebration that their hard-working trio was back together, and one of the best fourth lines in the NHL this season.

That was good for the Bs, as there werent many people in Black and Gold uniforms geared up for a nights work with so many things locked in for the playoffs with only two games to go. The top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton was on cruise control after a strong scoring chance on their very first shift of the game, and managed only a single shot on net, from Krejci, before the Czech Republic center was replaced on Bostons top line by the gritty, gutty Chris Kelly. "Lucic and Hortonended up with no shots on net. So I think we expect a little bit more and, you know, so we madea change there," said Claude Julien. "Maybe putting a guy that was going to be a more straightforward guy might have helped and David Krejci playing with some other wingers just to kind of spark things up. So Im not blaming one or the other; I think that whole line was flat tonight. So we had to split them up."

Despite a group of the players that came to the TD Garden seemingly afraid of getting their noses dirty or risking injury only two games away from the postseason, the Bruins still had just enough for a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders at TD Garden.

Coach Claude Julien was under no illusions about what hed watched for 60 minutes against one of the worst teams in the NHL a club that has long since been eliminated from playoff competition and really had little to play for aside from next season's employment.

Our best players certainly didnt make a difference, and who made a difference was our fourth line," said Julien. The Gregory Campbell line was very good for us tonight and the goaltender made some good saves for us. But its one of those games where you try and motivate your team to play hard and play well and I think theres a challenge there.

You know, you can say what you want and you can preach what you want, but there are a lot of players I think that are looking forward to the postseason. So those are the challenges that we have at this time of year.

It was a good rebound victory for the Bruins coming off the Rangers meltdown, and kept Boston in position to potentially hop over the Philadelphia Flyers for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. But there was sloppiness, softness and laziness all over the ice when things need to be tightened up for the Stanley Cup run.

I mean, there were some lapses," said Thornton. "But we just have to play our game and not worry who were playing against. When were playing our style of game, were a really, really good team.

When we get away from that, weve seen it through the years what happens there. As long as we continue to play our game plan, well be a pretty good team.

But Bostons top two lines arrived on Causeway Street with a stack full of envelopes and stamps ready to mail in their performance. It was instead left up to an energized fourth line to produce goals by Thornton (in the final second of the first period) and Campbell (through Rick DiPietros pads in the second period) that gave Boston its 101st point of the season.

Ridiculously talented Isles rookie Michael Grabner powered the New York attack with a pair of goals that made it a tight one-goal game, but fellow fourth-line inspiration Daniel Paille helped preserve the win with a gutsy blocked shot in the closing minutes of the game.

With playoff roster spots under competition, it was only appropriate the Bs fourth line came out firing with an overpowering shift midway through the first period. Some interior passing freed up both Paille and Thornton for big shots off the pass in the Isles end of the ice, but DiPietro stumbled, blocked, absorbed and stuffed his way to 14 saves in the first 20 minutes.

But the Bs energy line wasnt deterred, despite DiPietros ability to make a solid body save on Paille in the final five minutes of the period.

Finally, shots by Campbell and Paille softened things, and Thornton charged the net with a refusal for anything less than a goal. It finally came with one-tenth of a second left in the first period.After Tomas Kaberle and Dennis Seidenberg both made good efforts to keep the puck in offensively, Paille knocked around Dylan Reese in front of the net and Thornton crashed the front to pop the loose puck past DiPietro.

That goal came from a player hell-bent on doing whats best for his team, and it also served as notice that Thornton, Campbell and Paille were once again much more than a trio of fourth-line plumbers some feel are unworthy of ice time and significant shifts in the playoffs. The 10 goals for Thornton this season was something even the good-humored enforcer couldn't play down after the game.

Expect to see more of the same over the next days from Boston's heart and soul playersas the B's await the beginning of the playoffs April 14.

We just try to keep it simple and provide energy for the team. Our job is not very complicated, said Thornton. We have to work hard, we have to be first on every puck and create chances and be strong defensively.

I felt like there was a little chemistry with us tonight and we were fortunate enough to be able to put goals in."Hopefully their teammates will decide to snap out of it and join them.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Countdown to camp: Austin Czarnik

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Countdown to camp: Austin Czarnik

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Austin Czarnik.

View the gallery here

Krejci, Krug aim to be ready for Bruins opening night

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Krejci, Krug aim to be ready for Bruins opening night

BRIGHTON – Only two Bruins players spoke to the media following the team’s first informal captain’s practice at the new Warrior Ice Arena facility, and it happened to be the two key players coming back from offseason surgery.

Torey Krug had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder shortly after last season was over, and David Krejci had hip surgery to take care of a lower body issue that had bothered him for each of the last two seasons. Both were on the ice on Monday morning along with John-Michael Liles, Adam McQuaid, Frank Vatrano and Noel Acciari, though Krejci hopped off the ice 15 minutes into the session once the skating drills started to ramp up.

Similarly, Krug wasn’t taking any one-timers or winding up for slap shots while working with the puck during drills amidst a six month recovery window that’s expected to carry over into October. Both said that playing on opening night was their goal at this point still weeks ahead of NHL training camp, but a decision should be forthcoming for Krejci when it comes to the World Cup of Hockey. It didn’t sound like the playmaking pivot was going to end up competing for Team Czech Republic in the tournament, but Krejci isn't shutting the door just yet.

“It’s another day closer. I did a little bit more stuff today and I’m obviously already on the ice, so I’m kind of getting there. This injury takes time, but I like where I’m at right now,” said Krejci, who originally hurt the left hip in the final preseason game prior to the 2014-15 seasons. “Every day is a step closer. I’m excited for tomorrow. If you asked me a long time ago [about the World Cup] then I would have said ‘yes’, but right now I just want to get to 100 percent.

“If I’m ready then that would be awesome, but if not then I have to do what I have to do to be 100 percent. I’m in contact with the national team coach, and we talk pretty every week. They’re asking about my updates, so they know what’s going on. I’m sure they have some backup plan if it’s not going to work out. We’ll see what happens.”

It’s not quite as cut-and-dry with Krug, who will start slowly going into training camp while ramping up to being ready as quickly as possible. Similar to Krejci, the shoulder injury was something Krug played with pretty much all of last season while scoring a career-low four goals in 81 games. The 25-year-old D-man wasn’t using the bum right shoulder as an excuse, but said he’s looking forward to feeling good as new again as soon as possible.

“When you miss the playoffs it’s a long summer, but I was very fortunate going through the shoulder surgery that I had a lot of time to recover,” said Krug, who averaged a career-high 21:37 of ice time last season. “Hopefully I’ll be good to go for the first game. I didn’t know what to expect, but from a medical standpoint they tell me that [I’m ahead of schedule]. I’d never been through a surgery or anything like this, but I feel good.

“It’s probably a harder road, but I’m in good hands and they tell me I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m not even using my shoulder shooting the puck. I’m taking it slow and day-by-day with plenty of time still leading up to camp. It’s probably going to be a play it by ear situation [to start camp]. They said six month, so camp would be about five months. So I doubt I’ll be taking part in the physical aspect of it [to start camp]. We’ll see how it goes.”

The bad news is that Krejci and Krug had to go through surgery at all last spring, but it sounds like both aren’t going to miss much, if any, time at all for the B’s once the regular season winds up. 

Krejci more disappointed in losing Eriksson than missing out on Vesey

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Krejci more disappointed in losing Eriksson than missing out on Vesey

BRIGHTON – The Bruins held their first informal skate at the new Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning and there were a number of players present that also took part in the Jimmy Vesey recruiting session a few weeks ago.

Both Torey Krug and David Krejci skated on Monday along with John-Michael Liles, Frank Vatrano, Adam McQuaid and Noel Acciari, and those two aforementioned Black and Gold veterans were also part of the recruiting group that met with the former Harvard captain at their new practice facility.

A few days later, Vesey spurned the Bruins to sign with the New York Rangers, and the reactions weren’t all that overheated from the B’s players. Krug played with Vesey on Team USA during the World Championships a little more than a year ago, and didn’t really begrudge the highly sought Hobey Baker Award winner choosing the Blueshirts.

“I’m not going to go into details. He had the right to do what he did, and obviously it was a smart decision to interview with all those teams and figure out the best fit for him,” said Krug. “We wanted to him here, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Now we move on, and there’s an opportunity for other guys to step in and take that spot. This group moving forward, we’re highly motivated this year.”

Krejci would have been Vesey’s center, as pitched by the Bruins management in the meeting with Vesey, but that wasn’t enough to woo him to play pro hockey in his hometown. Krejci said he was more disappointed losing linemate Loui Eriksson than falling short in the Vesey sweepstakes. The carousel of changing wingers will be moving once again for the B’s pivot.

“I wasn’t really disappointed with that guy. Obviously I’d heard he was a good player, but he has to prove himself on the NHL level. I was more disappointed that we weren’t able to keep Loui. I felt like we had some good chemistry going,” said Krejci, referencing 30-goal scorer Eriksson departing for the Vancouver Canucks and a six-year, $36 million contract. “It was tough to see him go, but I’m getting kind of used to seeing my guys, my favorite guys, going away [like] Milan [Lucic], Nathan [Horton] and [Jarome] Iginla.

“So I’m going to have to play my game, and find chemistry with whoever is going to play on my line. I did meet him, and talked to him a bit. In the summer there aren’t many [hockey] things for people to talk about, so this [Vesey watch] was something for people to talk about. Obviously there was pressure on him, but he brought it on himself, I guess. I feel like he would have been a good fit on our team, but he made the decision he did. I don’t know exactly why he made the decision that he didn’t want to stay [in Boston], but it’s his career and he has all the right to decide where it is he wants to play.”

So Vesey becomes just another Harvard grad headed to New York City to start his career, and the Bruins will likely turn to Vatrano or perhaps rookie playmaker Danton Heinen as left wing candidates alongside Krejci and David Pastrnak after Boston missed out on both Eriksson and Vesey this summer.