Boston Bruins

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: John Beecher poses for a portrait after being selected thirtieth overall by the Boston Bruins during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)

  • Following a friendly (I think it was friendly, anyway) chirp and a wink my way, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney began training camp with a passionate defense of 2019 first-round pick Johnny Beecher.

    “I feel the rhetoric’s been a little unfair on Johnny,” Sweeney, who selected Beecher with the No. 30 overall pick back in 2019, said. “Not to be defensive about it, but he spent three years in college. Some guys have been at the pro level. He’s just starting to get to the pro level. We always felt that there was going to be a transition period for him. But the ceiling itself — with his skating and his size — we don’t know whether or not he’s going to be a prolific scorer in the NHL.”

    And while we still don’t have the answer to that question after Beecher’s first day of NHL training camp (and we won’t for about 200 NHL games if he’s lucky enough to hit such a marker), there’s a lot to like from Beecher’s first day in an NHL camp.

    In the middle of a line with Nick Foligno and Jake DeBrusk on the left and right, Beecher used his 6-foot-3 and 215-pound frame to win battles behind the net, and was able to get leverage over opposing defensemen. He was also able to flash some offensive skill and dish the puck to the right areas.

    “I thought he was really good today,” B’s head coach Jim Montgomery said. “His speed looked really good. I liked the way he attacked middle ice and kicked pucks out and drove to hard ice. So it was a really good first day.”

    “Obviously a little bit of nerves and jitters getting out there for the first time,” Beecher admitted. “But my legs kept getting under me a little bit better and it was a really solid day to get up and on the ice.”

    This is basically a continuation of what Beecher has done since leaving Michigan.

    In action for nine regular-season game with the P-Bruins, Beecher scored three goals and totaled five points, and added an assist in two postseason games. He also shined during Boston’s weekend in Buffalo for the 2022 Prospects Challenge. This is not what you saw during his time in Ann Arbor.

    “I think [my confidence] is where I want it to be,” Beecher admitted. “After coming from Michigan with a star-studded team and not necessarily getting every opportunity, I think it’s definitely huge for every player to see the puck go in the net. And coming off last weekend [in Buffalo], I think it’s really big try to carry that momentum in the training camp and then hopefully into the preseason.”

    Beecher, who had 39 points in 81 career games with the Wolverines, also seems to agree with Sweeney in the sense that he feels that he does have more to show at the offensive end of the rink.

    “I mean, I’m only 21 years old and I’m definitely not at the peak of my career yet,” Beecher said. “I’ve put a lot of hard work in over the last six months and I’m excited to show everybody what I’ve got.”

    Beecher’s offensive-zone focus has come with playing with more of an “attack mentality.” That means taking the shot when it’s there instead of deferring to your wingers (this always tends to be an issue for young centers, especially when moving up a level), and essentially drilling it into goalies’ heads that you can and will shoot the puck if left unattended.

    As for the true start of his pro career, the Bruins currently view Beecher as a center. He can play wing, but they liked his ability to win draws during his AHL sample, and at last weekend’s Prospects Challenge, so the focus will be on growing out his game as a pro-level centerman.

    And that ability to win draws could be Beecher’s ticket to pushing his way onto the NHL roster.

    “Absolutely,” Montgomery said if faceoff prowess would be one way for Beecher to make things interesting this fall. “I think any time a player can add something to their repertoire, like winning faceoffs, like being good at getting pucks out on walls, blocking shots, attacking people and making plays, like that’s how you buy minutes and that’s how you are able to add layers to your game, which makes you invaluable.”

  • Matt Grzelcyk beginning to ramp up on-ice action

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 06: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins looks on during overtime of the preseason game against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on October 06, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 06: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins looks on during a preseason game against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on October 06, 2021. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    While the Bruins were unveiling their first-ever jersey sponsor, defenseman Matt Grzelcyk was on the ice and working through some drills on his own. And though he’s still on track for a late November-ish return, the continued steps towards a return to the ice have been more than welcomed.

    “I think my range of motion has gotten a little bit better now,” Grzelcyk offered. “I’ve obviously been working on a lot [of different stuff], and just little things like sleeping, waking up in the morning, [the shoulder is] not as stiff. It was kind of a long few months to end the year last year. So, I’m just happy to feel a little bit more like myself.”

    On the ice for about a week now, Grzelcyk was allowed to start shooting pucks this past Monday. He’s also toyed with some different stick lengths, wondering if that would potentially help his shoulder.

    One thing that’s helped Grzelcyk, at least from the mental side of things, on this road back to action, according to Charlestown, Mass. native? He isn’t the only one working back from major surgery. He’s been joined by Charlie McAvoy and Brad Marchand, and all three are looking at similar timelines.

    “I still have kind of a long ways to go, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said Grzelcyk.

  • Jim Montgomery finds focus for Day 1 of camp

    Oct 23, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery yells to his team during the game against the Los Angeles Kings at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 23, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery yells to his team during the game against the Los Angeles Kings at the American Airlines Center. (Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)

    Speaking on Wednesday, new head coach Jim Montgomery admitted that he’s already comfortable with the Bruins. I mean, he’s already using nicknames with his boss (that’s Sweens, in case you’re wondering), so that alone speaks to the idea of comfort. That comfort, of course, has been off ice.

    As for his first day of on-ice work with the Bruins, Montgomery said it was really about two things.

    “Pace and language,” Montgomery said. “Pace and language.”

    Under Bruce Cassidy, the Bruins were known for up-tempo practices designed to maximize productivity. They could be a bit trying, especially if you were a slow learner or someone who needed a bit more time to get your engine revved up. Day 1 of training camp definitely seemed to have its moment of high-paced action, but the process itself seemed to be more of a focus. That sounds like ‘language’ to me.

    “I think we accomplished that in a couple of drills today,” Montgomery said. “Trying to get players, understand how we want to play and how quickly we can get them up to speed and playing fast.”

  • Bruins put Lysell in ‘perfect’ spot out of the gate

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28: Fabian Lysell #68 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on September 28, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 28: Fabian Lysell #68 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on September 28, 2021 in New York City. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    2021 first-round pick Fabian Lysell is absolutely ahead of schedule compared to where the Bruins had him about 10 months ago. So much so that it would be borderline shocking if the Bruins sent Lysell, who is AHL-eligible this year as a European player, back to the junior hockey ranks in 2022-23.

    The sense I get is that they want to start his pro career and see what he’s got against grown men, and how they’re starting his training camp certainly speaks to that belief.

    Part of the first group to take the ice Thursday morning, Lysell found himself skating to the right of Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Zacha on the Black and Gold’s top line.

    “I think it’s important that you give the players you think have the potential to play in those spots, the opportunity to play in those spots,” Montgomery said. “Because if we put them with fourth-line players, maybe they don’t get to see what they can do as far as making plays.”

    Lysell is an absolutely dynamic player to watch no matter the setting. He plays with an electric pace, and can turn nothing into something. Lysell had one sequence Thursday where he hit a net-front Zacha with an absolutely fantastic saucer pass that had the defensemen spinning.

    Whether or not Lysell gets a top-line look during training camp remains to be seen, but the new B’s head coach is already noticing a high-ceiling attribute with the team’s top prospect.

    “He’s dynamic how he attacks people’s feet,” Montgomery said. “He makes defensemen face him [and] good offensive players will manipulate defensemen’s feet and he understands how to do that already so he’s gonna make plays.”

  • Bruins have tryout offer on table for veteran NHLer

    Mar 25, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Anton Stralman (86) during the face off against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 25, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Anton Stralman (86) during the face off against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

    On Thursday morning, a source confirmed to 98.5 The Sports Hub that the Bruins do have a tryout offer on the table for veteran defenseman and current free agent Anton Stralman.

    A 36-year-old right-shot defenseman, Stralman spent the 2021-22 season with Arizona, and finished with eight goals and 23 points in 74 games for a dreadful Coyotes club. In addition to his 23 points, Stralman racked up 99 hits and 100 blocked shots while averaging 21:21 minutes per night.

    Stralman is still weighing his options for the 2022-23 season, and whether or not he would want to report to Boston for a chance to essentially be the team’s No. 8 defenseman. Stralman would, in theory, have a chance at regular playing time while Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy are on the shelf, but what would happen after that would be anybody’s guess.

    A veteran of 930 NHL games, Stralman would immediately step in as the team’s No. 4 option on the right side. The Bruins are currently slated to begin the year with left-shot defenseman Jakub Zboril playing the right side, with Connor Carrick the next guy in line on that side of the blue line.