Pastrnak made his NHL debut Monday during the Bruins' 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden. The 18-year-old forward started on the fourth line, but by the end of the game Bruins coach Claude Julien had Pastrnak skating on Bergeron's line.
The Bruins had Tuesday off, and when they returned to the practice ice Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena, Pastrnak was wearing a gold jersey, signifying a spot on Bergeron's line. Pastrnak played the right wing, as Brad Marchand was on the left side. Reilly Smith, who's normally on that line, was moved to the third unit with Chris Kelly and Matt Fraser/Seth Griffith.
Pastrnak is currently the youngest player in the NHL, so Julien is considering all the elements and trying to promote the rookie's development without putting him in a position to fail.
Bruins coach Claude Julien tweaked his line combinations a bit. Rookie David Pastrnak, who made his NHL debut during Monday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, was playing the right side at practice, along with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Here are the practice lines:
Milan Lucic-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Simon Gagne
Matt Fraser/Seth Griffith-Kelly-Reilly Smith
Griffith had been assigned to Providence prior to Monday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden. Caron and Khokhlachev both played in that game. Griffith has five goals and two assists for seven points in 18 games for the Bruins this season.
Caron has played in two games for Boston this season, while Khokhlachev has played in three games.
All it took was a quick glance at the 2015 free-agent center options, and suddenly that money didn’t look so bad.
The free-agent market seems to get thinner each year, making signing your current players a smart priority. That’s one reason why Spezza likely isn’t the last to get a deal done here in the next month or so.
“You’re going to see teams try to get deals done. There might be more of an urgency to get deals done,” said one agent with a couple of high-end players in contract years. “The cap isn’t going to go up significantly, so the prominent guys are being locked in.”
Spezza would have been one of the top three players available. What does the UFA list look like without him? Here’s an early look at the Top 20, with updates on where some of negotiations currently stand:
The Rangers were St. Louis’ preferred destination when he was leaving Tampa Bay, so there’s no reason to believe he’s going anywhere. He’s been a great fit with the Rangers, was their spiritual leader during their trip to the Stanley Cup finals and has 17 points through 20 games so far this season. At 39, he might be at the point where he’s willing to do one-year deals that come with bonuses that can be rolled over.
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins can finally breathe -- sort of.
One of their toughest stretches of the season is complete, and they finished with a 3-1-1 record against some solid opponents. On Monday, the Bruins played well and earned a point with their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden.
This five-game stretch in 10 days for the Bruins included wins over the Carolina Hurricanes, St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets, and a loss to the Montreal Canadiens. It’s been impressive the way the Bruins have played, given all the injuries the team has dealt with.
"We know we have a lot of work to do, but the effort is there. It's really good to see that we're not giving up on anything, and even though we have some injuries, guys are showing up and playing hard," Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said.
Before hosting the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night, the Bruins will have three days of practice to fine-tune their game.
Meanwhile, the Bruins are trying to play their game to the best of their ability, but the offense has been limited. Through 23 games, Boston is ranked 21st in goals per game, averaging 2.48 in that category. It doesn't help that top-line center David Krejci has missed 11 games with an undisclosed injury, and his absence disrupts the entire lineup, forcing coach Claude Julien to switch up his lines in search of offense.
"I don't think we're getting enough bodies to the net. That's where a lot of goals in this league are scored," said Bruins forward Brad Marchand, who returned to the lineup Monday after missing the past three games due to injury. "When you're having a tough time scoring goals, then you've got to get back to playing dirty and get some ugly ones."
With Boston trailing 1-0, it appeared the Bruins had tied the game at the 10-minute mark of the first period, but after review it was ruled that Patrice Bergeron knocked the puck in with a high stick and the goal was disallowed.
Julien's concern after the game was that the closest referee to the play signaled it was a goal, but the three other officials overturned it because they saw a high stick on the play. The NHL's situation room confirmed the officials' call.
"I don't know what the league looked at. When I looked at the replay, it looked more inconclusive," Julien said. "Now, they may contradict me and say they had a better angle from where they were, but that's how it looked to me."
With the game tied at 2-2, the Bruins' Carl Soderberg thought he had the go-ahead goal at 10:53 of the second period, but the on-ice officials signaled Soderberg knocked the puck in with his glove, and after review the call stood.
Julien thought the puck ricocheted off the player's chest and not his glove. The coach said he watched it time and again in slow motion, and it could have gone either way.
"It gets frustrating with the guys working so hard and feeling like you played well enough to win, but you come out of here losing in overtime when you thought you scored enough goals to win," Julien said.
And it's not only the non-goals. Goalie interference penalties also have hurt the Bruins this season, including Monday night when Reilly Smith sat in the box for two minutes for the infraction. Boston is at its best when it crashes the net and creates havoc in front of opposing goaltenders, but the Bruins are finding that it's a fine line between being physical in front and making contact with the goalie.
"It means we're doing the right things and guys are going to the net hard. We want to keep doing that, and eventually those goals are going to come," Marchand said.
Normally when they face the Penguins, the Bruins have the services of captain Zdeno Chara, who is considered one of the best shutdown defensemen in the league. On Monday, the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin scored a pair of goals, while teammate Sidney Crosby chipped in one against the undermanned Bruins.
"They played really well, they are a tough team to play against," the Penguins' Kris Letang said. "They are really good defensively; they have a great goaltender and they have a good system. You just have to make sure you don't go off your game plan."
Now that this stretch is over, the Bruins have one more game at home Friday before heading out on a difficult West Coast trip, where they will face Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.
"We always know that those trips out west are not easy, and somehow we have to figure out how we're going to come away from that road trip with a winning record and put full focus on that," Rask said.
It’s only natural for an 18-year-old rookie, currently the youngest player in the NHL, to feel that way, but he showed his typical style of risk and reward in his first game at this level.
“Well, we had to look at him, right?” Julien said. “Plus, I thought he had good legs and so I put him on a couple lines. Obviously, you can see he’s a pretty dynamic player.
“I liked his game. I know he probably didn’t get a ton of ice time, but when he was out there I liked what he did.”
Pastrnak was more disappointed in the team’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins than worried about his own game.
“I was all right. It was my first game, so I was a little bit nervous about that. I tried to enjoy it and have a good time,” Pastrnak said.
His teammates were pleased with his game.
“He’s a good player. He’s very skilled and he didn’t play a ton but when he was out there, he was making things happen,” Brad Marchand said. “You can see the talent that he has and the speed, so he did good.”
Now that his NHL career has officially begun, the Bruins have eight more games to decide whether to keep him in Boston. If he returns to Providence before that nine-game window expires and doesn’t play more than nine games with the parent club, he could finish the season with the P-Bruins and his entry-level contract would slide and begin with his first NHL season. He also could return to play in the Swedish Elite League, but at this point that doesn’t appear likely.
“It’s my dream [to play in the NHL] and my dream came true,” Pastrnak said. “I just have to keep working hard.”
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin scored only 32 seconds into overtime for the victory.
Milan Lucic and Joe Morrow scored for the Bruins, while goaltender Tuukka Rask finished with 30 saves.
Pittsburgh received a pair of goals from Malkin, while Sidney Crosby contributed one.
The Penguins gained a 1-0 lead at 3:33 of the first period when Crosby netted his ninth goal of the season. The Bruins were caught scrambling in their own end when Crosby collected the loose puck and beat Rask.
It appeared the Bruins had tied the game at the 10-minute mark of the first period, but after review it was ruled that Patrice Bergeron knocked the puck in with a high stick and the goal was disallowed.
Boston tied the game at 1-1 when Lucic finished a nifty tape-to-tape passing sequence between Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson at 1:43 of the second period. That line created pressure when Soderberg fed Eriksson, who quickly threaded a cross-crease pass to a wide open Lucic for the goal.
It then took the Bruins only 38 seconds to gain a 2-1 lead on Morrow's goal at 2:11. His wrist shot from the left point found its way through a Gregory Campbell screen in front and beat Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. It was Morrow's first NHL goal.
Pittsburgh capitalized on a man-advantage when Malkin scored a power-play goal at 9:42 of the second period to tie the game at 2-2. It was his ninth goal of the season.
With the game knotted at two apiece, Soderberg thought he had the go-ahead goal at 10:53 of the period, but the on-ice officials signaled Soderberg knocked the puck in with his glove, and after review the call stood.
After a scoreless third period, Malkin finished it in overtime.
HE'S BACK: After missing three games with an undisclosed injury, Bruins forward Brad Marchand returned to the lineup. He was reunited with linemates Reilly Smith and Bergeron. Marchand showed no ill effects from his injury. However, he did miss a couple of shifts in the third period when coach Claude Julien decided to put Pastrnak on the second line. With Marchand back and Pastrnak making his debut, forward Matt Fraser was a healthy scratch.
DROP ZONE: The Bruins are perennially one of the top faceoff teams in the league with the likes of David Krejci, Bergeron, Soderberg and Campbell as responsible centermen. On Monday, the Penguins dominated the dots early, but Boston responded. In the first period, Pittsburgh had a 15-5 advantage, but the Bruins evened it at 21-21 after two periods. The Penguins finished with a marginal victory in the category, 27-25.
Griffith recorded five goals and two assists for seven points in 18 games with the Bruins this season, while playing on the team's top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
Following the team's morning skate Monday, coach Claude Julien indicated there would be some game-time decisions to make in regards to Monday night's lineup against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden.
With Griffith's assignment, it's likely forward David Pastrnak will make his NHL debut for the Bruins against the Penguins. The 18-year-old forward was recalled Monday and participated in the Bruins' morning skate.
MOVING ON UP: Bruins first-round pick David Pastrnak could make his NHL debut. He was recalled from Providence of the AHL, and coach Claude Julien said the 18-year-old rookie would be a game-time decision. Pastrnak is an exciting player to watch and has showcased his offensive skills with the P-Bruins this season. Boston selected Pastrnak with the 25th pick in last June’s draft. During Monday’s morning skate, he was on the right wing with center Alex Khokhlachev, while Jordan Caron and Seth Griffith split time on the left side. If Pastrnak plays Monday night, he will become the fourth Bruin to play his first NHL game this season, joining Bobby Robins, Griffith and Joe Morrow.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY: The Bruins had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday at TD Garden. The Bruins are 8-5-0 on home ice this season. Boston is 4-2-0 against Metropolitan Division opponents. It’s the first of three games against the Penguins this season, and Pittsburgh’s only visit to Boston. The Bruins are 3-8-1 in their last 12 games against the Penguins. Pittsburgh is 7-2-1 on the road this season and overall are 7-2-1 in its last 10 games
MASKED MEN: Tuukka Rask gets the nod against the Penguins. He’s 10-6-0 with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage in 16 games this season. He has allowed only three goals in his last three games. Rask is 8-3-0 in his last 11 starts. The Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury is 11-3-1 with a 2.10 GAA and a .926 SP in 15 games this season. He also has four shutouts this season and is one win shy of reaching 300 in his career.
LINE COMBOS: Due to numerous injuries, Julien has been forced to tweak his line combinations the last few games. David Krejci and Chris Kelly will not play Monday night, and Marchand will be a game-time decision.
Here are the lines from the team’s morning skate.
Milan Lucic-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Marchand/Matt Fraser-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Simon Gagne
Jordan Caron/Seth Griffith-Alexander Khokhlachev-Pastrnak
Forwards David Krejci and Chris Kelly will not play Monday due to undisclosed injuries, while Brad Marchand will be a game-time decision. He participated in the morning skate and took turns during line rushes on the left side with Matt Fraser.
The original timetable for Chara’s absence was four to six weeks, and it’s already been one month since his injury.
“It’s a start,” Julien said. “He’s certainly not close to being mine yet. It’s his first time in a long time and it’s always encouraging to see your player back on skates, that’s for sure.”
Meanwhile, Krejci’s ongoing, undisclosed injury makes it difficult for Julien.
“Some days he’s mine, and some days he’s not mine at all,” Julien said. “Right now, we’ve taken a step back again. It’s something I can’t even go into. It’s been way more complicated.”
Krejci has missed six of the last seven games (11 overall), and the one game he did play during this recent stretch, the veteran forward was 100 percent healthy, said Julian.
“From everything I’m being told, it’s not something we’re going to have to manage all year,” Julien said. “It’s something that’s going to be fixed.”
Kelly’s injury status remains unclear, but he’s not playing Monday night. He missed Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens and he did not skate Monday morning.
“I don’t think there’s a specific timetable. It’s not three to four weeks, or four to six weeks, that much I can tell you. That’s why we can only say day-to-day at this point,” Julien said.
During the morning skate, Julien was forced to break up a tussle between goaltender Tuukka Rask and forward Carl Soderberg. During one of the drills, Rask was upset and slashed Soderberg to the back of the leg. Soderberg turned and got in Rask’s face and shoved the goalie, as the two had words. Julien skated over and told them to knock it off.
“It wasn’t even a tussle, and they’ve already kissed and made up, so it’s not an issue,” Julien said after the skate.
While the Penguins were conducting their morning skate, the emergency alarms went off in the building and everyone was asked to evacuate. The team remained on the ice as most everyone exited the building.
Boston fire trucks responded and after 10 to 15 minutes, the building re-opened.
“All I can tell you is we’ve got some game-time decisions, like usual,” Julien said. “With everything that’s going on, it’s hard for me to confirm certain players right now.”
Pastrnak participated in the team’s morning skate and was on the right wing with center Alexander Khokhlachev, while Jordan Caron and Seth Griffith split time on the left side. Afterward, Pastrnak said it’s been a confusing but exciting 24 hours since he was told of his promotion to Boston.
“I’ve never had this before, so I can’t describe it,” he said.
“It’s cool. I’m happy that I got this opportunity to come here. I don’t know if I’m playing, but practicing with those guys I think is great, so I’ll enjoy it.”
The 18-year-old Pastrnak, the youngest player in the AHL, has five goals and 13 assists for 18 points in 17 games for the P-Bruins. He also has a plus-12 rating in his first year as a pro. He did not play in Providence's 5-4 loss to the Springfield Falcons on Sunday afternoon at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.
Julien said Pastrnak has improved a lot during his stint in Providence and that he now has a better understanding of the North American game. The one area the Czech Republic native has been focusing on is his defensive play.
“We know dynamically he makes things happen. He’s a skilled player and can score goals,” Julien said. “We don’t expect perfection, but you’ve got to be at least a little bit reliable defensively. That’s what he’s been working on [in Providence] and he’s gotten better.”
The Bruins selected Pastrnak with the 25th pick in last June’s draft. Because of his impressive skill set, there was talk about him possibly making the Bruins’ roster out of training camp. But the 6-foot, 167-pounder suffered a left shoulder injury on the first day of camp and was limited to only two preseason games.
When camp broke, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli decided it would be best for Pastrnak’s development to send him to Providence so the organization could better assess his ability.
At the time, Pastrnak needed to agree to the AHL assignment, which he did.
“It was really good,” he said. “I like a lot of guys there. They are all good friends to me and it was fun to be there. I got a lot of experience from there, too.”
To make room for Pastrnak’s cap hit of $925,000, the Bruins placed captain Zdeno Chara on long-term injury reserve. Chara has been sidelined with a torn ligament in his left knee, but skated Monday morning for the first time since Oct. 23.
If Pastrnak plays Monday night, the Bruins will have a nine-game window to decide whether to keep him in Boston. If he returns to Providence before that nine-game window expires and doesn’t play more than nine games with the parent club, he could finish the season with the P-Bruins and his entry-level contract would slide and begin with his first NHL season. He could also return to play in the Swedish Elite League, which at this point doesn’t appear to be the case.
- New York Islanders: Don’t look now, but the Islanders are tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division after Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins that left a full house at Nassau Coliseum cheering in delight. The long-suffering fan base is experiencing the type of excitement and optimism that is only fitting in the antiquated barn’s final season before the team relocates to Brooklyn. Jack Capuano’s squad has won eight of its last nine games, with two straight against the star-studded Penguins.
- Toronto Maple Leafs’ sticks: Maybe not trending up, but at least lifted up after the uproar that engulfed the team following their decision to snub the fans last week after Thursday’s 5-2 win over the Lightning, an ill-advised action that caused pandemonium the next day. The Leafs wisely put this issue to bed, reverting to their customary stick salute after a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
- New York Rangers' goaltending: With a 5-0 blanking of the league-leading Montreal Canadiens in a rematch of the 2014 Eastern Conference finals Sunday night, the Rangers recorded their second consecutive shutout. After backup goaltender Cam Talbot stifled the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 on Wednesday night, Henrik Lundqvist followed with a 21-save performance to record his fourth shutout of the season. That ties him for the league lead with Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury.
- Eric Lindros’ relationship with the Flyers: Time heals -- or at least dulls -- all wounds, right? That seems to be the case for Lindros, as the star was inducted in the Flyers’ Hall of Fame in a ceremony before the club’s 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. Lindros entered along with fellow Legion of Doom linemate John LeClair and appeared to be in fine spirits despite a previously rocky relationship with his former team, or namely with former GM Bob Clarke. We’ll ignore his snub of the team’s former athletic trainer, John Worley, who was on hand with the Wild that night.
- Just about everything for the Columbus Blue Jackets: It’s not enough that the Blue Jackets have suffered an uncanny amount of injuries, limping their way through the first quarter of the season. They’ve also seen one of their top player sidelined with a degenerative back condition that could threaten his career. They’ve seen their top defenseman file for bankruptcy in a heartbreaking story of parents vs. child. And they are stuck at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with a 6-12-2 record following a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. Things can’t get any worse, can they?
- The Penguins’ power play: The vaunted unit, which still ranks first in the league with a 33.3 percent success rate, has not registered a man-advantage goal in their last two games. The unit didn’t even get a chance against the Islanders in the club’s 5-4 shootout loss on Friday. And they were limited to just two shots on their only opportunity in the second match of their home-and-home set against the Islanders the following night.
- The Penguins suffered without veteran forward and well-respected “glue guy” Pascal Dupuis during the playoffs last spring, and they will likely be without him again this year as it was announced last week that he suffered a blood clot in his lung that will sideline him for at least six months. If you’re keeping track at home, the Penguins have now seen two players develop blood clots, one player suffer a stroke and another battle cancer during the past two seasons. Sheesh.
- The Boston Bruins have suffered their fair share of losses on defense already this season, most notably the knee injury to team captain Zdeno Chara. The Bruins’ back end remains hobbled with blueliner Adam McQuaid expected to miss six to eight weeks with a thumb injury.
- Alfredsson retirement: According to multiple reports, veteran forward Daniel Alfredsson is expected to retire. Though the 41-year-old has been working toward a return from a nagging back injury, the currently bleak outlook leaves little room for optimism that he will continue what has been an illustrious career. Alfredsson had hoped to return to play for the Red Wings this season, but repeatedly encountered problems with his back during the summer and first month of the season while skating on his own.
- Hitting the road: This could be a critical juncture for the Ottawa Senators, as the 9-6-4 squad readies itself for a five-game road trip this week. The Sens, arguably the most disappointing team of the 2013-14 season, have had an underwhelming start to this year’s campaign. They currently sit two points back of the Leafs in sixth place in the Atlantic Division.
The 18-year-old Pastrnak, the youngest player in the AHL, has five goals and 13 assists for 18 points in 17 games for the P-Bruins. He also has a plus-12 rating in his first year as a pro. He did not play in Providence's 5-4 loss to the Springfield Falcons Sunday afternoon at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.
To make room for Pastrnak's cap hit of $925,000, the Bruins placed captain Zdeno Chara on long-term injury reserve. Chara has been sidelined with a torn ligament in his left knee.
Once the Bruins officially announce Pastrnak's promotion, they will have a nine-game window to decide whether to keep him in Boston. If he returns to Providence before that nine-game window expires and doesn't play more than nine games with the parent club, he could finish the season with the P-Bruins and his entry-level contract would slide and begin with his first NHL season.
The Bruins selected Pastrnak, a Czech Republic native, with the 25th pick in last June’s draft. Because of his impressive skill set, there was talk about him possibly making the Bruins’ roster out of training camp.
But Pastrnak suffered a left shoulder injury during training camp and was limited to just two preseason games. When camp broke, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli decided it would be best for Pastrnak’s development to send him to Providence so the organization could better assess his ability.
Pastrnak was named the AHL’s rookie of the month for October.
The Bruins host the Pittsburgh Penguins Monday night at TD Garden.