Steve Mason

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers, Bruins open season with plenty to prove

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NBCSN will begin its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight when the Boston Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

For the Flyers and Bruins, the wait will finally end tonight. After being eliminated in seven games by the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens respectively, both teams are looking to do more despite being prevented from making major upgrades due to the salary cap.

In fact, an argument could be made that Boston and Philadelphia both took a step back over the summer. The Bruins watched 30-goal scorer Jarome Iginla walk away as an unrestricted free agent and recently dealt top-four defenseman Johnny Boychuk in the interest of freeing cap space. On top of that, their points leader in 2013-14, David Krejci, will start the campaign on the injured reserve list due to an undisclosed problem.

That’s a huge gap in their offense compared to 2013-14, but the Bruins are hoping Loui Eriksson can help fill the void. His first season with the Bruins was derailed due to multiple concussions, but after having the summer to regroup, he’ll get a chance to put his past struggles behind him.

At least Krejci might not be out for long; the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t been so fortunate with their players. They have no idea when defenseman Kimmo Timonen (blood clots) will be back or if he will return at all. That’s problematic because while the Bruins have a young core that’s capable of filling the void left by Boychuk, Philadelphia’s defense was a significant question mark even before Timonen’s injury.

“You don’t replace Timonen, a very good defenseman, intelligent,” coach Craig Berube told CSN Philly. “But as a group, they can replace him. Or try to, to a certain extent. They’ve got to all step up and play good. I think our D core, all seven of them that are here (Nick Schultz is the team’s current seventh defenseman), are very capable of getting the job done.”

Michael Del Zotto might help in that regard. He started the 2013-14 campaign as a projected top-four defenseman with the New York Rangers, but fell from grace to the point where the Rangers sent him to Nashville, which didn’t even retain his rights as a restricted free agent. The 24-year-old had to wait until August before he signed with Philadelphia and who knows what his situation would be if Timonen was healthy.

He’s going into this season with a lot to prove, which sums up these two teams nicely. Both would like to demonstrate that they’re as strong as ever despite their summer setbacks. They both want to assert themselves as serious contenders for the Stanley Cup and that battle starts tonight.

Bruins’ Krejci will miss some time on IR

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins - Game Seven
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The Boston Bruins announced that David Krejci is among the players they placed on the injured reserve Tuesday, but early reports indicate that it won’t be that big of a deal.

Update: Bruins head coach Claude Julien provides his perspective to CSNNE.com. It doesn’t seem overly concerning or overly promising.

“He’s still considered, I think, minor. We were told originally that it was really a minor injury, and we didn’t think much of it,” said Claude Julien on Tuesday afternoon prior to Krejci being placed on IR. “It hasn’t healed as well as we thought it would.

“We’ll have to see how he feels, so it’s one of those injuries that could be a questionable one. We’ll have to reassess with our trainers. I got off the ice and came right here, so I don’t have more details than what I had before our morning skate.”

Krejci, 28, suffered this issue during the second period of Saturday’s exhibition against the Detroit Red Wings. While it’s unclear how bad this injury might be, ESPN’s Joe McDonald lays out the black-and-white fact that CBA rules will require Krejci to miss a few games since his injury is retroactive to Saturday.

This is not exactly an ideal scenario for a player who probably wants to silence critics of his six-year, $43.5 million extension, but Krejci obviously has plenty of time to take care of that. (Besides, that contract doesn’t kick in until 2015-16, anyway.)

There were some other noteworthy takeaways from the Bruins’ roster moves, though as Benjamin notes, some of them might not stick for very long:

  • To little surprise, Marc Savard was placed on the LTIR. Gregory Campbell and Anthony Camara are on the non-roster IR.
  • Jordan Caron and David Pastrnak find themselves in the AHL.
  • Brian Ferlin and Malcolm Subban are with the big club, though that could change pretty rapidly for one or both of these young players.

It’s not really a major crisis, but injuries increase the likelihood for slow starts for the likes of Krejci and Milan Lucic.

Meet the 32-year-old blogger/enforcer that just made the Bruins

Liam O'Brien, Bobby Robins
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On Tuesday, the Boston Bruins announced their opening night roster — and there’s one name that’s likely to stick out above the rest.

Bobby Robins, a 32-year-old journeyman enforcer that’s never played in the NHL, has made the team. The former UMass-Lowell product has played in a lot of different places — including stints in Northern Ireland and Austria — but has carved himself a niche in the American League, where he’s racked up over 800 penalty minutes in 280 games.

[ MORE: Watch Flyers-Bruins on NBCSN and online tonight ]

On yeah, Robins also runs his own website.

At the risk of writing off Robins as strictly a fighter, it’s worth noting he’s coming off his most productive AHL campaign ever with Providence last year, scoring five goals and 14 points in 68 games. That said, this is the same guy that put up 316 PIM in 74 games during the 2012-13 campaign, and has fought a remarkable 80 times over the last three American League seasons.

Here’s some of his handiwork:

In related news, the B’s sent ’14 first-rounder David Pastrnak to AHL Providence.

[ MORE: What could derail Boston’s chances to win the Cup? ]

Gagne still awaiting a deal from the Bruins

Simon Gagne
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As Tuesday’s 5pm eastern time deadline for teams to reduce their rosters to 23 men, and be cap compliant, fast approaches, Simon Gagne continues to wait for a contract from the Boston Bruins.

Gagne, 34, had a solid showing in camp and through the preseason reports CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty and though he doesn’t have a contract yet, it appears a deal isn’t far off.

Gagne who didn’t play in 2013-14, split the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season between the LA Kings and Philadelphia Flyers where he scored five goals and 16 points in 38 games.

The forward said he was motivated to get back into the game watching the Kings march to the Stanley Cup last spring.

“I missed the game last year, especially during the playoffs,” said Gagne. “I feel energized. I feel really good physically and mentally, so I’m ready for another (season). When I got the call from Boston, I thought it was the perfect scenario for myself, and for my family.”

Even after moving Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders, the Bruins only have $330,000 in cap space to work with as of Monday morning according to CapGeek.

Gagne isn’t deterred by the the Bruins cap situation.

“I had a little chat with (GM Peter Chiarelli)… we’ll see what happens over the next few days,” said Gagne. “I’ll be a part of the team, and I’ll stick around. It’s something where I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make the team. It’s good for them, and it’s good for me.

“I’m not going to another team. I’m here now and I want to be here now. I’m not going anywhere.”

For their part, Boston is happy with how Gagne has progressed through camp given he spent a year away from the game.

“My impressions are that he’s getting better. I think he’s skating better and he’s starting to get his hands back. He’s been away from the game – he’s skated for most of the year, but he’s been away from the game for the whole year,” said Chiarelli. “I spoke with him (Saturday) morning, and I made a proposal to him in the sense of, ‘Look Simon, I see you getting better, I want you to stick around and practice with the team.’

“He didn’t say yes or no, but I think he suggested he would want to stick around. He feels that he’s getting better. So that’s kind of a play-it-by-ear, day-by-day see how his legs feel, see how his hands feel, and just kind of see how it goes.”

Originally a first-round pick of the Flyers in 1998, Gagne has appeared in 799 NHL games with the Flyers, Lightning and Kings where he’s scored 288 goals and 597 points.

Boston is no stranger to giving older players contracts following camp invites. As Haggerty points out in his piece, the Bruins once signed Jay Pandolfo following a professional tryout.

“I didn’t play last year, so I’m happy to be here,” said Gagne. “If it takes a week or a couple of days, I will take the time and work hard in practice waiting for something to happen.”

The Bruins ironically open the season Wednesday against the Flyers.

Gagne could ultimately turn into a bottom six depth type player in Boston should he sign.

Krejci leaves Bruins game with minor issue

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three
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David Krejci left the game in the second period of Boston’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings Saturday and did not return.

Following the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien said Krejci’s injury was, “Very, very minor… won’t be any issue there”.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty saw Krejci in the Bruins room post-game:

The Bruins are off to Vermont on a team building event and Krecji is expected to be with the team.