Notes: Bruins, Krejci dodge a bullet

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Notes: Bruins, Krejci dodge a bullet

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The last thing the Bruins need is another injury at the center position, but there was a big scare on Wednesday night.

It appeared they might have another pivot go down when David Krejci tumbled awkwardly into the boards after getting planted from the side by Rostislav Olesz in the first period of the 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Krejci stayed down for long minutes clutching his left arm and wrist in obvious pain, and he went straight down the runway once he was able to get off the ice under his own power. But after getting his left arm looked at by the trainers, he returned to the ice and played the rest of the game.

It wasnt my shoulder. It was like my whole arm getting tweaked going for position and it was a little uncomfortable for a few seconds . . . so I stayed on the ice, said Krejci. You know it got a little better . . . its sore, but obviously nothing major.

Krejci must have made a pretty quick recovery from the issue because it was his clean faceoff win in the Florida zone that set up Milan Lucics game-winning goal in the second period.

Coach Claude Julien said he was just glad Krejci was able to shake the left arm issue off, as it would have left the team short-handed when it comes to playmaking skills and power play creativity.

When Krejci first went down, the last thing you want to see is him not come back. Were already minus one pretty good centerman Marc Savard, so you certainly dont want to lose that second one, said Julien. But he came back and he finished the game and he seems to be okay. Theres no doubt these next five days for the All-Star break will be good for him and probably a lot of the other players that are playing a little banged up.

Its, I guess, a break that we needed. We certainly didnt need Krejci going down and not getting him back.

Krejci now has eight assists in his last nine games and is back on playmaking track after he experienced a bit of a lull in the middle of his season. In fact, Krejci sounds like a man thats ready to go on a tear in the second half of the season with Savard down and out and the opportunity there for Krejci to make the power play his own.

I feel a little better now. My last few years, the end of the season was always better, said Krejci. I believe this is going to be a good half of the season for me and I just dont want to talk about it . . . you just have to go out there and prove it.

The second half is going to be way better for me.

The first key to a way better second half for Krejci is staying healthy, and it looks like he dodged a bullet on Wednesday night.

Steve Kampfer said he wont need surgery on his broken nose as theres been some progress in clearing up his nasal passage for easier breathing out of his nose over the last couple of days. Kampfer will instead head back home to Michigan to take in some college hockey with a few of his NHL buddies.Brad Marchand heads into the All-Star break on a high after putting up seven goals in his last 11 games heading into this weekend, and putting himself on the radar while fitting in nicely with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi on Bostons most effective line. The offensive burst places Marchand sixth among NHL rookies with 13 goals scored and leads all first-year players with a plus-21 this season, but despite all that he never received an invite to the Superskills rookie challenge at the All-Star game this weekend when other rookies had to drop out.Jordan Eberle was scratched due to injury and Jeff Skinner was moved into the actual All-Star game as an injury replacement, but the NHL opted for Carolinas Jamie McBain and Montreals P.K. Subban as replacements over Marchand.No matter, said Marchand, as long as the team is having success and the Bruins can get on a roll heading into the playoffs.Seguin would be so much better than me in all those skills challenges anyway, said Marchand. Hes the right guys to go down there. I actually didnt think about it at all, and none of that stuff really matters to me as long as the team is doing well and were winning hockey games.Claude Julien also joked that Marchand told him during the season that hed end up with 20 goals this season, but the rookie came clean and admitted that he wasnt sure he could get to 10 goals this season. Now Marchands prediction to Julien is beginning to look a little bit more like a realistic goal.I thought I might be able to score ten. I knew I could make it. Last year I know I couldve had a bunch, and they just werent going in, they werent bouncing the right way, said Marchand. This year, I knew if I kept getting opportunities they were eventually gonna go in. Bruins legend Willie ORee was on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck at TD Garden on Wednesday night, and took part in several equipment drops around the Boston area for the Hockey is for Everyone campaign. ORee was the first black hockey player to break into the NHL ranks with the Bruins, and still remains active in events for the Black and Gold when he can find the time.

The equipment donation and Special Olympics hockey clinic are part of a number of activities taking place throughout the month of February through the NHL's "Hockey is for Everyone" initiative. Throughout the month of February, Hockey is for Everyone provides support and unique programming to non-profit youth hockey organizations across North America that are committed to offering children of all backgrounds opportunities to play hockey.
Tim Thomas and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist each have seven shutouts to lead the NHL this season, and Thomas narrowly missed out on his eighth shutout of the season when he allowed a blocker-side goal in the third period of Wednesdays 2-1 victory.Nathan Horton has scored only a single goal in the last 20 games while enduring the worst slump of his career, but Claude Julien lauded the right wing for his effort and willingness to work in Florida's 2-1 win after some spotty efforts recently.To his credit, Nathan Horton has retained his sense of humor about the situation and said he was going to spend his NHL All-Star break"finding a new stick" and then joked with rookie Tyler Seguin to be on the lookout for some good right-handed sticks at the All-Star game events.

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

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

Click here for the gallery.

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: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing.