Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28: Joona Koppanen #45 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)

Days removed from taking Chris Wagner on their tour of California and throwing the Walpole, Mass. native into his first regular-season NHL game of the season this past Sunday, the Bruins rewarded another hardworking depth piece Wednesday with the recall of Joona Koppanen from Providence.

The Bruins aren’t going to waste any time when it comes to throwing Koppanen into the mix, either, as Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery confirmed that Koppanen will be in Thursday’s lineup against the Kraken.

“I was of course really happy and really excited [for the] opportunity to play my first game here,” Koppanen said following Wednesday’s practice session. “Been working for that for a lot of years now, so it’s a dream come true.”

  • (Click here to subscribe to the Sports Hub Underground podcast.)

  • For Koppanen, the call to Boston came in the midst of a 2022-23 season that’s included five goals and 19 points in 34 games with the P-Bruins (his best scoring rate since jumping to North American ice), and after 215 games with the P-Bruins since the start of the 2017-18 season.

    This has been a long time coming, too, as the Finnish-born Koppanen’s 215 games with Providence are actually tied with Eric Nickulas for the 26th-most in franchise history. They’re also the most among players who as of Tuesday were active P-Bruins skaters.

    But this is about more than making a fifth-round draft pick and longtime AHLer’s dreams come true.

    “He’s had a really good year in Providence [and] we really liked his last exhibition game,” Montgomery said of the thinking behind making the call for Koppanen. “And we don’t have a left-shot center right now that can win draws just because [Tomas] Nosek is still not 100 percent healthy.”

    Back in the B’s lineup for the 2023 Winter Classic and all of the Cali trip, it’s certainly worth noting that Nosek, who centers Boston’s fourth line, has yet to take a faceoff since returning to the Boston lineup.

  • BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 16: Joona Koppanen #45 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the first period against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on September 16, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 16: Joona Koppanen #45 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the first period against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on September 16, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Koppanen is clearly looking to bring some Nosek-esque qualities to the Bruins, too.

    “I think the hard work over the years and trying to stay with my game in Providence,” Koppanen, the No. 135 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, said when asked why he think he got the call to Boston. “I think I can win faceoffs, play penalty kill for the team, [and] play solid five-on-five.”

    As for the last time we saw the 6-foot-5, 216-pound center on NHL ice, Koppanen got his deepest look yet at the NHL level when he appeared in four games during the 2022 preseason, and finished with one assist.

    It was a beauty of a helper, too, as Koppanen shut down a chance in his own end and carried the puck for a shorthanded feed to Oskar Steen for the game-tying goal in a home win over the Rangers.

    Koppanen also recorded four shots, two takeaways, and five hits for the B’s during that fall preseason run.

  • The organizational lack of left-handed faceoff options is a glaring one for the Bruins, too. Especially with lefty centers-turned-mostly-wingers Trent Frederic and Pavel Zacha struggling at the dot this season — Frederic has won just six of his 19 faceoffs while Zacha’s gone 41-for-108 (38 percent) at the circle — and Nosek unable to take draws, the Bruins’ need at the position is certainly front and center.

    And when you’ve been as good as the Bruins have been out of the gate this year, you’re afforded the luxury of simply seeing what you have with certain guys who may not get an opportunity if you were point chasing.

    “[Playing Koppanen] gives us an opportunity for supplemental players to be able to help us in big moments or what we hope will be important games down the road,” Montgomery admitted.

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.