Boston Bruins

Dec 11, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Foligno (17) against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

  • Bruins winger Nick Foligno isn’t stupid.

    He knows what’s been said and written about him after a 2021-22 season that featured just two goals and 13 points — and on a $3.8 million salary, no less — in 64 games. And it was somehow a line that was even uglier than it sounds. One of 351 NHL forwards to log at least 700 minutes (all situations) last year, Foligno’s 0.15 goals per 60 ranked 350th, while his 0.98 points per 60 ranked 337th.

    It was about as bad as it could have been.

    Foligno has his reasons for that. An early-season injury put him behind the proverbial eight ball, and every time it felt like he was getting traction, another roadblock came and derailed any sort of momentum. It eventually forced Foligno into a fourth-line role, and into what was effectively a lost season with the Bruins.

    But Foligno, given a vote of confidence by the front office when they opted not to buyout the remaining year of his contract or get creative in an effort to move him, isn’t ready to say that you saw last year is his new reality.

    “I mean, two goals isn’t what I expect, but I just came in [this season] and tried to to reset and work on some of the things that I’ve always worked on,” Foligno said following Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “I know I can score goals, I’m not worried about that. I think my track record speaks for itself.

    “It’s just more about putting myself in positions to [score]. I think, last year I just could never get going, and it was just one of those years.”

    Jim Montgomery, who will be tasked with finding ways to maximize Foligno and his $3.8 million salary in a way that Bruce Cassidy could not, seemed to agree with last year just not being the 34-year-old winger’s year.

    “I know that looking at last year, I don’t think he was happy with how it went for his own play,” Montgomery said. “The thing you have to realize when you sit back [and look at it] is one he had a big surgery during the offseason, and didn’t get to train the way he wants to. He moved to a new city. And these aren’t excuses, but it is reality.

    “So you’re overcoming a lot. You didn’t get the train the way you want. You’re making sure your family is comfortable. And he’s a great family man so that’s going to occupy part of your brain.”

    The good news is that this past summer was surgery-free for Foligno. This summer also didn’t come with a move. There should be some comfort here, and with raised expectations as a result of that stability, right?

    “He’s someone that has great leadership and someone that we’re looking for to help create a clear identity on the third or fourth line as far as puck possession, being hard on people, and being relentless on top of pucks,” Montgomery said. “I expect him to be a big part of what we did this year because of those things.

    “I think he’s playing a lot freer, he’s getting on top of pucks, he’s creating a lot of loose pucks, he’s getting to the net front, and that’s where he’s made his whole career.”

    Asked for a number, Montgomery said he’d consider 10 goals from Foligno — and that’s with no power-play time factored into the equation — to be a successful year for the 1,021-game veteran. (That’d be one more than Foligno has scored in his last 124 games if you include postseason play.) Foligno, meanwhile, had a different take on what will make this a successful bounce-back year with the Bruins.

    And it had nothing to do with goal scoring.

    “I get it. There’s a number, there’s a salary, and I get that. But guys, I’ve played long enough to know that if you’re out there in certain situations, important minutes, then that’s really what matters,” Foligno, whose 12:28 per night was his lowest nightly average since his rookie year, said. “And I think that’s what your teammates expect out of you and that’s really where you get the respect from coaches and players.”

    The undeniable truth here is that there’s nothing Foligno can do or say right now that’s going to change the majority’s view on his contract and fit. Both are looking poor, and Saturday’s preseason showing against the Flyers’ rookies and minor leaguers didn’t do much to change the narrative.

    It’s going to take on-ice results. And almost certainly in a role that shouldn’t come with the shock it did a year ago.

    “The goals are important and when you have the opportunities you got to bury them,” Foligno admitted. “That’s part of this league, but it’s also what do you do away from the puck, especially in the role you’re asked, and I’m in a different role in my career now. So it’s just making sure that I’m doing the things necessary to allow our line to be really good each and every night, but also helping the other guys that do the hard work and let those guys score their goals.

    “I still expect myself to bring offensive production. I know I can, so that was disappointing last year, but I’m looking forward to doing that this year.”

  • ‘Normal’ lines beginning to form in camp

    Apr 28, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) reacts with left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) after scoring a goal during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 28, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) reacts with left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) after scoring a goal against the Buffalo Sabres. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    After going with the bare minimum number of veterans last Saturday in Philly, the Bruins expect to go with a more veteran-heavy group Tuesday night at home against the Rangers, and will really ramp up the experience beginning Saturday afternoon. It’s all part of a slow build towards a complete roster.

    But Monday’s return to the ice also came with a shift towards what October will bring, with the Bruins icing what you would consider closer to NHL and AHL representative lines.

    Atop the depth chart, Pavel Zacha and Jake DeBrusk skated on Patrice Bergeron’s wings. Taylor Hall finally got in a session with David Krejci and David Pastrnak, and Trent Frederic skated to the left of Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith (though that’s been a line throughout camp).

    The fourth line(s) had a bit more of a mix-and-match quality, with one line featuring Tomas Nosek between A.J. Greer and Marc McLaughlin, another with Jack Studnicka as the center for Chris Wagner and Fabian Lysell, and a third with Jakub Lauko to the left of Johnny Beecher and Oskar Steen.

    The fourth line is really what the Bruins are trying to nail down here, as the top nine is basically set until the expected return of Brad Marchand sometime in late November.

  • Bruins dealt some bad news on injury front

    MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 21: A detailed view of the Boston Bruins' logo is seen during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. The Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 21: A detailed view of the Boston Bruins’ logo is seen during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    A bummer of a medical update from the Bruins came courtesy of Jim Montgomery following Monday’s sessions, as he expects that the Bruins will be without forward Eduards Tralmaks for at least four weeks due to a lower-body injury. Tralmaks sustained the injury in a collision with a teammate during Saturday’s non-game group scrimmage at Warrior Ice Arena.

    The 25-year-old wing put up 14 goals and 27 points in 51 games with the P-Bruins last year.

  • Stralman continues to get look atop depth chart

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 24: Anton Stralman #86 of the Arizona Coyotes warms up before the NHL game at Gila River Arena on November 24, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Oilers defeated the Coyotes 5-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 24: Anton Stralman #86 of the Arizona Coyotes warms up before the NHL game at Gila River Arena on November 24, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    In camp on a professional tryout and looking to extend his NHL career at least one more year, Anton Stralman remained with Hampus Lindholm for the second straight day of on-ice work.

    With the Bruins committed to keeping Lindholm and Brandon Carlo on different pairings to begin the season, that ‘RD’ spot next to Lindholm is there for the taking, and may be the best spot possible for the 36-year-old Stralman. On the board with eight goals and 23 points in 74 games with the Coyotes last year, the Bruins like what Stralman has been able to do as a complementary piece over the years.

    “I think he’s a person that came in with more of an offensive look to him, played some power-play [time] in Toronto and a little bit in Tampa Bay, and then emerged into becoming just a top-four defenseman that complemented, especially [Victor Hedman],” Montgomery said of Stralman. “I think that then he became a shutdown guy in his last three years. So he’s someone who’s continually been able to adjust his game and he does a real good job blocking shots.”

    Barring something downright disastrous or Stralman himself deciding that he doesn’t have it in him, I have a hard time seeing how this camp ends without Stralman signed to a deal.